The DGCA asked pilots to maintain caution about locust swarms hitting aircraft on landing or take-off
As far as possible, it is strongly advised that flights should be avoided through any known locust swarm, the watchdog said
New Delhi: The DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has cautioned airlines’ staff, including pilots, against locust swarms which have attacked several states across India. In an operation circular released on Friday, the DGCA asked pilots to maintain caution about locust swarms hitting aircraft on landing or take-off or when planes are parked at the airport. “Generally, locusts are found at lower levels and therefore pose a threat to aircraft in the critical landing and take-off phase of the flight. Almost all air intake ports of the aircraft will be prone to ingestion in large numbers, if the aircraft flies through a swarm,” the DGCA said in its circular.
The DGCA said in the circular that a large number of locusts on the windshield is known to impact the pilot’s forward vision and that using wipers on the windshield may only worsen the situation.
Avoid flying through locust swarm: DGCA
“All pilots are also required to share information of locust swarm location if they have sighted any during the flight. As far as possible, it is strongly advised that flights should be avoided through any known locust swarm,” DGCA said. It also asked air traffic controllers to warn pilots of locust presence in the aerodrome if they are aware of it, and asked pilots to keep an eye on it during flights.
The DGCA has asked pilots to make appropriate entry in their defect log giving details of any malfunction experienced after a flight through a locust swarm and has mandated the engineering crew to conduct checks prior to release of aircraft for next flight. “Ground handling agencies should also be aware that locust swarms pose risk to parked aircraft, and possible air inlets and probes should be covered,” the circular said. The aviation watchdog said that since locusts do not fly at night, it gives pilots and ground staff a better opportunity to see and avoid them during the day.
Over the past few weeks, many swarms of locusts have arrived in India from Pakistan and moved into Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country from Rajasthan. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), the locusts have bred and matured in Iran.
A typical desert locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer. Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometers in a day. An average swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people and pasture biomass.