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Why, how Turkish Airlines aircraft spent 1 hr: 22 minutes in the skies of Kampala after take-off

By Davis Mugabi

On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, a Turkish Airlines flight number 606 departed Entebbe at 7.30 am for Istanbul while it was raining.  However, it rotated around the skies of Kampala and its surroundings for 1 hour and 22 minutes.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority – UCAA – says that “Unfortunately, the aircraft experienced a bird strike during take-off.”

As a precautionary measure, the Authority adds: “the flight hovered in the Ugandan airspace before landing safely at Entebbe at 08:52 am.”

The Flight was then cleared and departed Entebbe International Airport at 10:49 am with 281 passengers and crew on board.

Before its final departure, the aircraft was checked for airworthiness before resuming the flight.

“To promote the highest standards of safety, security and service in civil aviation, UCAA maintains a dual approach while dealing with birds.

The Airport has a dedicated Bird Hazard and Wildlife Control Unit. Its primary task is to proactively ensure safety of aircraft operations, using modern techniques for bird hazard control at airports. These techniques conform to international conventions on migration of birds. Traditional methods of bird scare and control are also applied. CAA thus delicately balances aviation safety and the international opinion on environment conservation. Strides in Bird Hazard Control at Entebbe International Airport narrate the whole story. Entebbe International Airport is on a peninsular surrounded by a fresh water mass – Lake Victoria. Being near the equator, the area experiences two rain maxima (April and October). These and other human activities attract both local and migratory bird species – with the latter visiting the peninsula in March and October every year,” UCAA said in a statement.

The Authority says that the Entebbe Peninsula is a gazetted ‘Bird Sanctuary” and host to some of the common bird species including, African fish eagles, Black kites, Marabou storks, Black headed herons, Swallows, Gulls, Terns and Egrets, among others.

“Air Transport is greatly threatened by the presence of birds at any airport. Airline companies can lose up to $ 10 m in replacement of a single aircraft engine after destruction by birds. In worse cases, there could be total loss of an aircraft its passengers and or cargo.”

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