Locust swarms pose a serious threat to flights while landing and taking off, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) warned on Friday amid the worst invasion of the pest that has swamped western and central India in nearly three decades.
In a circular to airlines, the aviation watchdog said, “Generally Locust 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 (Areas like engine inlet, air-conditioning pack inlet etc.),” the note said.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) May 29, 2020
Flying through swarms can also hit sensors and instruments, leading to incorrect readings, especially unreliable air speed and altimeter indications.
“Though an individual Locust is small in size, impact of large numbers on the windshield is known to have impacted the pilot forward vision. This is a grave concern during landing, taxi and take off phase. Use of wipers at times may cause the smear to spread even more, pilot should consider this aspect prior to opting to use wipers to remove Locust from the wind shield,” the DGCA said.
Large swarms can also obstruct visual ground contact over a large area, the agency said, asking air traffic controllers to let pilots know if locusts swarms are spotted.
“As far as possible, it is strongly advised that flights should be avoided through any known Locust swarm. The only favourable aspect is that Locust do not fly at night, thus providing better opportunity to sight and avoid the,” the note said.
Huge swarms of desert locusts are destroying crops across several states, prompting authorities to step up their response.
Drones, tractors and cars have been sent out to track the voracious pests and spray them with pesticides. The locusts have already destroyed nearly 50,000 hectares of cropland.
The insects caused massive damage to seasonal crops in both states, devastating many farmers already struggling with the impact of a strict coronavirus lockdown.