Wildlife, bird strike hazard raises anxiety
Due to the increasing air traffic the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport’s runway is being congested stifling the operation of pilot training schools and charter flight operations.
At a consultative meeting organized by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) yesterday at Harmony Hote,l director of ECAA, Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw (Col.), disclosed that the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, is growing fast and the authority is trying to match the growth of the airline. Wossenyeleh said that the airline is acquiring new fleet and increasing flight frequencies. “There are also charter flight operators and pilot training schools. It has become a challenging task to accommodate all these flights on one run way.”
There are six private airlines that provide charter flight services in Ethiopia and all of them are based in Addis Ababa. There are also three pilot training schools owned by Ethiopian Airlines, Abyssinian Flight Services and East African Aviation.
Mesfin Tassew, chief operating officer, commented that Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy is facing a serious challenge to train its pilots in Addis Ababa. Mesfin said the airline was forced to partially move its pilot training center to Dire Dawa and Mekele. Due to some technical challenges it cannot fully use the Dire Dawa and Mekele airports for training. “Now with a special permit we are using the Bishoftu Air Force base to train our cadets. Now we are contemplating to move to Hawassa Airport. I also ask the private pilot training schools to consider Hawassa Airport. This is a temporary solution. There was a plan to upgrade the airport to category 3 and build additional runway. But we are not witnessing any work being done on this regard. What progress have you made on upgrading the airport?” Mesfin asked officials of the authority.
The other serious issue raised during the meeting was wildlife hazard and bird strike incidents at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and as well as regional airports. Mesfin said wildlife hazard was a serious challenge in the regional airports particularly in Dire Dawa, Mekele and Bahir Dar airports. “Recently there was an incident in Dire Dawa. What is being done to reduce wildlife hazards?” He also mentioned that the airline incurs hefty costs due to birds strike.
Representative of East African Aviation Girma Gebre (Capt.) said that ECAA and the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise should look for a solution for the runway congestion. Solomon Gizaw, managing director of Abyssinia Flight Services and Pilot Training School complained that his aircraft are told by air traffic controllers to hold for long at the Addis Ababa Airport during takeoff. “Our cadets are forced to hover around for 35 minutes to get clearance to landing,” he lamented. Solomon suggested for the construction of a small airstrip in the vicinity of Addis Ababa. “If you grant me the land I can build it by myself.”
Wossenyeleh admitted the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport runway congestion. He said that a decision has been made by former minister of Transport, Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), to upgrade the airport to category 3 (to build second runway). “The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise is working on this. A land fill work should be carried out to build the second runway. This requires a huge cost.”
Regarding the wildlife hazard Wossenyeleh said there are bird strike hazard in Addis Ababa as the airport is now located in the city. “There are illegal slaughtering in and around Addis Ababa. ECAA and the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise are jointly working to mitigate the problem. We are pushing the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise to build fences in Dire Dawa and Mekele.”
Though Wossenyeleh gave the floor to Ethiopian Airports Enterprise there was no senior executive of the enterprise represented in the meeting.
“ECAA seriously takes the matter and will deal with the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise,” Wossenyeleh assured the participants.