New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Friday issued an operation circular directing all airlines’ staff, including 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 aviation regulator advised pilots to consider that impact of large number of locusts on the windshield is known to have impacted the pilot's forward vision, and that using wipers on the windshield might only worsen the situation.
The DGCA also asked the air traffic controllers to warn pilots of locust presence in the aerodrome if they are aware of it, and also asked pilots to keep an eye on it during flights.
“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.
The regulator as directed pilots to make appropriate entry in their defect log giving details of any malfunction experienced post a flight through a locust swarm, and the engineering crew should conduct checks as mandated 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 regulator said.
However, the DGCA said that locusts do not fly at night, which provides pilots and ground staff a better opportunity to see and avoid them.
In recent weeks, many swarms of locusts had arrived in India from Pakistan moved into Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country from Rajasthan. These were among those breeding and maturing in Iran, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
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. Green vegetation and moist sandy soils common in Rajasthan are favoured for breeding.