For a very long time, a number of issues have occupied the public discourse in Nigeria’s aviation sector. These issues have been considered crucial and urgent for the attention of the aviation authorities.
Some of the issues border on security, safety, standards, convenience, ambience and so on, depending on the perspective of the Critic or Reviewer.
As a person of interest in aviation reporting, l have played the roles of both the antagonist and the protagonist well enough to appreciate the concerns of the users and the regulators alike. By my reckoning, l can categorically state that the Nigerian aviation growth and development is destined for greater heights.
While we envy the depth and quality of the industry elsewhere abroad, Nigeria has certain organic and environmental features which cannot be replicated easily. The industry is lying there, waiting to be exploited maximally. I am positive that the right breed of entrepreneurs are already onboard or on the fringes, awaiting the right opportunity and moment to jump into the fray.
It is this perspective that gives me great delight to discover an ingenious set of activities by which the new management of FAAN has quickly and decisively addressed the age-long risk of bird strikes at the Lagos hub of the Nigerian aviation industry.
It gladdens my heart that the new management of FAAN has adopted a natural solution to the endemic challenge of migratory birds to our airspace. To the uninitiated, the popular saying that “the sky is wide enough for every bird to fly” will just suffice. However, to the aviator, there is a potent threat to his artificial bird posed by the natural migratory birds.
Birds in flight pose danger to an aircraft in many ways. The most serious is when a collision impacts the windscreen enough to cause a breach. Another is when a bird or two get sucked into the jet engine and damage the fan blade such that the engine goes down. This may not be critical as such planes are designed to cope with a single engine. However, where it occurs during take-off or landing, it can become critical at some point! Bird strikes against windows and wings can also lead to costly damages!
This is why the successful completion of a six-month bird removal project undertaken by the Bird Hazard Control Unit of FAAN under the directive of the new Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu ( himself a pilot of repute ) is a feat, worthy of note.
With a painstaking environmental survey, the FAAN Hazard Team discovered the factors sustaining the “den” of some 5,000 or more assorted birds which have been terrorizing in-bound flights into the MMIA. For about two decades, these birds occupied a tactical strike position ( 2 miles in the direct line of flights for in-bound operation) during which the birds carried out about 700 sorties against innocent civilian aircraft.
As widely appreciated in the aviation industry, birds removal operation is quite delicate. The operation could actually catalyze or instigate the very danger being prevented if the birds are stampeded. The danger is more real with such a large population of diverse breeds. The breeds include, the egrets, herons, whistling ducks, the common moorhens, open bills storks, and the long-taled cormorants. All these species were fully represented in this extra-ordinary assembly of birds.
Interestingly, rather than adopt the simplistic solution of eliminating the birds, the Hazard Team in full recognition of the rights of these birds decided to naturally dislodge them by changing the environmental characteristics of the habitats, thereby making the birds relocate voluntarily. This feat is exemplary and a clear departure from the fire-brigade approach of Nigerians that l have come to be accustomed to.
More delightful is the fact that a project sustainers team has been constituted to further monitor the success recorded to ensure the birds do not return.
We believe this feat has been recorded so early and so seamlessly because at last a square peg has been fitted in a square hole as most Nigerians have been advocating. Now that this example has become successful, we trust the FAAN management will quickly consider replicating this project across the nation’s airport facilities.
We also hope the Nigerian Government will begin to get lucky in shopping for similar men of pedigree to head critical national assets and take Nigeria to the promised Next-Level.
•Dan Aibangbe, a media and Public Relations expert wrote from Lagos.