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Air turnback: Vistara, Go First airlines abort flights after bird hit

While Vistara flying to Mumbai from Varanasi turned back, the Go Air heading for Chandigarh returned to Ahmedabad. Bird hit is increasingly becoming a major threat to aviation safety in the country. It has been noticed that garbage around airports spawns insects drawing in birds looking for prey. Vistara suffered a radome damage. What is a radome?

(Video: The EgyptAir Boeing 737-800 was carrying 70 passengers when it hit a bird, leaving the radome cone covered in blood and feathers, while landing at Heathrow. This incident occurred a few years ago.)

NEW DELHI, Aug 6: Following a bird hit a Vistara flight heading for Mumbai had to return to Varanasi airport on Friday. As the aircraft has gone for maintenance inspection, another one was sent from Delhi to Varanasi to fly the passengers to Mumbai, the airline said. This is the second such air mishap happening in the past two days.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in a statement said, “Vistara A320 aircraft VT-TNC operating flight UK622 (Varanasi-Mumbai) was involved in an air turn back to Varanasi due to a bird hit. Aircraft has landed safely in Varanasi and radome is damaged."

A Chandigarh-bound Go First flight had to return to Ahmedabad in minutes of take-off after a bird hit the plane on Thursday morning. The bird hit caused engine vibrations. The plane landed safely. A alternative aircraft was made available soon to fly the passengers to Chandigarh.

Bio-acoustic devices are being used by the airport to drive away birds which flock grassy grounds looking for preys especially when rain helps breed insects.

The DGCA has ordered an inquiry into the incident. The aircraft has been grounded and is being inspected.

On June 19, a Delhi-bound aircraft of the SpiceJet caught fire soon after take-off from the Patna airport and made an emergency landing because of a bird hit. Same day, a Delhi-bound IndiGo flight from Guwahati returned to Guwahati airport due to a suspected bird hit after the takeoff.

Such incidents and engineering-related glitches have become almost a daily affair raising security concerns.

Responding to the spate of mishaps in the last few months involving most airlines, aviation regulator DG Arun Kumar had last week said air travel in India is “absolutely safe" and that all the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) protocols are strictly followed. However, the DGCA it curtailed the summer schedule operations of Spicejet by half. Spicejet had led the list of mishaps.

What is a radome?

The word "radome" is derived from "radar" and "dome," indicating that it is a dome enclosing and protecting the radar dishes or antenna. The radomes or enclosures are designed such that they shield the antenna and electronics from rain, ice, UV light, wind etc and help smooth transmission and reception of radio signals vital for navigation. The protective shell thereby enhances the pointing accuracy of the antenna. The materials used will have electrical transparency so as not to interfere with the transmission efficiency. The radar that radome protects is one of the most critical components ensuring security and accuracy in avionics. Radomes have applications in various other fileds as well.

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