MUMBAI: While parts of western and northern Indian have come under locusts invasion in the past few days, there is yet no circular from the Indian civil aviation regulator on the safety aspects of operating an aircraft in regions that are under attack by these flying mob of grasshoppers.
For an aircraft on approach to land or one on a climb post take off, flying into a swarm of locusts could be dangerous as these insects could get sucked, by thousands, into the aircraft engines damaging them, they could smash onto the cockpit windscreen blurring visibility, get sucked into the open probes like pitot or static tubes that should remain open if an aircraft has to gauge its airspeed accurately.
“Locusts swarms can be worst than volcanic ash. If they clog the pitot and static tubes, for instance, the cockpit instruments would give erroneous airspeed readings to pilots who are already impaired due to poor visibility from a locust-damaged windscreen, said an air safety expert. An erroneous airspeed indication in the cockpit coupled with a carcass-mottled windscreen during an approach to land could be potentially hazardous to aircraft safety.
Early this year, a swarm forced an Ethiopian Airlines flight flying from Djibouti to Dire Dawa to divert to Addis Ababa after locusts crashed into the aircrafts windshield affecting visibility. In December last year, a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft flew into a swarm while landing at Quetta, but the pilot managed to land the aircraft safely though the swarm of insects had smashed onto the windscreen and aircraft nose.
Said a senior Air India commander: “No guidelines or advisory has been issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) yet on flight operations in regions under locusts attack. We havent received anything as of May 28, 11 pm.”
On Thursday, the Delhi government issued an advisory on preventive measures to be taken in case of a locust attack in the national capital territory (NCT) of Delhi. Said an A320 instructor: “The DGCA too should have issued an advisory today. There are not many flight movements in the night as only a fraction of domestic flights are being operated but early on Friday morning, aircraft will take off and land in Gujarat, regions of Maharashtra and MP that are under locust attack, he added. Air travel which was banned for the past two months in India, was restarted on May 25 with airlines currently flying less than one-third of their schedule. However even a single incident of an aircraft flying into a swarm during critical stages of take off or landing could lead to an emergency.
India is currently facing the worst locust attack in close to three decades. Early this week, the locust swarms entered into Rajasthan and now have migrated to Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and up north to Punjab. In Maharashtra, a locust waRead More – Source