File photo
John Masaba
Journalist @New Vision

A Uganda Airlines plane was on Monday forced to abort its flight after experiencing a bird strike at Entebbe International Airport.

Flight number UR-710 bound for Johannesburg experienced a bird strike at 4:48pm, shortly after take-off from Entebbe.

The plane, however, managed to return and land safely at 6:23pm, after over an hour in Uganda airspace.

 Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) said in a statement on Tuesday that the plane was struck by two Barn swallows, a migratory bird species.

“The flight later took-off at 7:53 and returned safely this morning at 0502 hours,” the statement from UCAA said.

The latest incident comes hardly days after another plane —Turkish Airlines flight number 606— was forced to return to the ground after a bird strike during take-off.

The A330, however, had to fly around Kampala and Entebbe for over an hour to burn fuel to achieve the right weight for landing.

Experts says bird strikes usually damage the forward-facing areas of the aircraft – the windscreen, nose cone, and engines.  The heavier the bird is, the more potential damage there is to an aircraft. The Barn Swallow that was responsible for the latest strike weighs about 17g, UCAA said.

Entebbe is a wildlife sanctuary that usually experiences bird migrations twice a year (March - May and October - December).

However, UCAA said that it has noted longer stay of some migratory species like the Barn Swallow, possibly due to climate change.

But it added that despite the rising incidents, UCAA’s wildlife and hazard management section is “in charge and continues to implement all Standard Operating Procedures, which include routine runway sweeps (prior to any landing or take-off).”

“Other plans include monitoring habitats and doing community outreach activities to manage garbage and waste disposal, which are major bird attractants. The section also uses pyrotecnics, laser torches for bird scare, foot patrolling and duly informs the Air Traffic Controller to warn the pilot when birds are sighted as required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” the statement noted, adding: “continuous research is also very vital in wildlife hazard management.”

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