Surabaya. Juanda International Airport in Surabaya is under attack, but not by terrorists. Instead, large flocks of birds are the culprits, growing in size around the airport and posing a safety hazard for arriving and departing flights.
Trikora Harjo, general manager of airport operator Angkasa Pura I Juanda, said increasing numbers of birds were flying to and from the airport during the morning and late afternoon, which is dangerous for airplanes taking off or landing.
“The pilots are usually too focused on their flights, so they only realize there’s a problem after they’ve landed,” Trikora said.
“They can smell an acrid burning smell from the engine or abnormal noises coming from it,” he added, referring to evidence that birds have been sucked into the airplane’s engine.
The flocks of birds that fly around the airport often include several waterfowl species, Trikora said, because the airport sits near the coast and expansive fish and shrimp farms.
He added that the birds tended to fly north at about 7 a.m., and then they returned south at about 5 p.m.
The airport authorities have tried several measures to stop the birds from crossing the airspace over the airport.
So far, their tactics have ranged from shooting at the birds to scaring them away by playing recordings of predators and other loud noises, Trikora said.
The airport is also trying to keep its grass trimmed short.
“Tall grass can become a home for various insects and frogs, which are also the prey of these waterfowl,” he said.
Prigi Arisandi, the executive director of the Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (Ecoton), said the problem could be solved by creating a new and comfortable bird habitat outside of the airport.
“If the birds had an artificial wetland, then hopefully they wouldn’t have to fly over the airport,” Prigi said.