Malaysia Airlines plane hits flock of ducks in Nepal

KATHMANDU: A Malaysia Airlines aircraft on a scheduled flight (MH114) from Kuala Lumpur with 180 passengers and crewmembers on board escaped disaster while landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) here on Friday night.

A flock of ducks struck the aircraft's windshield as it touched down on the runway at 10.45pm on Saturday, leaving the southern tip of runway 02 strewn with broken glass, airport authorities said. There were no reports of injuries.

The airline's cockpit crew, however, did not immediately inform the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) about the incident.

The flight captain later confirmed the "suspected bird-hit", but only after a Jet Airways crew reported it to the airport authority.

"The incident came to light after a pilot of Jet Airways, which landed minutes after Malaysia Airlines, informed us of sighting pieces of glass on the runway," said an ATC on condition of anonymity.

Upon inspection, airport officials found at least 10 dead ducks and pieces of glass on the runway. The debris was cleared and airport resumed normal operations after half an hour.

The officials found two more dead ducks during a routine inspection early on Saturday morning.

"It's the first time that we have seen so many ducks in the airport area," said an official.

Some officials said that they could be migrating ducks from Taudaha.

The airline cancelled a return flight to Kuala Lumpur that was scheduled at 11.00pm Friday. All passengers who were booked on the flight were subsequently transferred to Soaltee, Annapurna and Hyatt Regency hotels. The plane took off for the Malaysian capital at 3.30pm Saturday after necessary repairs.

Meanwhile, the ATC official said that they have notified the TIA general manager about the incident, recommending action against the Malaysia Airlines pilots for failing to report the incident in time.

"The pilots should have informed the airport authority immediately to prevent any untoward incident," the official said.

More than 75 bird strike incidents have occurred during take-off or landing at the TIA since 1990, with three resulting in major damage to aircraft. A Thai Airways Airbus A300 in 1996 and a Bangladesh Biman DC-10 in 2010 escaped without majot incident, but 19 people were killed when Sita Air Dornier crashed in September 2012.