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Suvarnabhumi Airport : Flight Status

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thai airport 'faces bird threat'

Flocks of birds are creating a safety threat at an airport in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, local reports say.

Open-billed stork
Large birds can be sucked into the engines of aircraft on take-off

Birds have been involved in 48 minor collisions with planes at Suvarnabhumi airport, according to the Bangkok Post.

Thousands of birds are said to be attracted by drainage canals around the runways and food on nearby farms.

Earlier this month pilots' groups expressed concern that a major accident could happen if a large bird was caught in the engines of a plane on take-off.

Abundant food

Airports of Thailand (AoT), which runs Suvarnabhumi, monitored the runways after pilots voiced their fears.

The organisation found that the most serious threat came from open-billed storks, which gather in flocks of up to 700 and can grow to around 80cm (31.5in) in length.

They also found that the large fish ponds and tall trees at a temple 6km (3.7 miles) away were providing additional food, shelter and breeding grounds for the birds.

Efforts to scare the birds away, including firecrackers and bird nets, have so far failed.

The AoT is now attempting to control rubbish and vegetation around the runways to reduce the amount of food available.

Suvarnabhumi, which means golden land in Thai, opened in September 2006 at a cost of $4bn (£1.95bn).

The construction project was plagued by problems, including cracks in the runway and claims of corruption by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup shortly before the official opening.

A government representative told the Bangkok Post that the newly-formed Thai aviation safety committee will meet in November to discuss possible solutions to the problem.

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