Kite-flying poses threat to jets

KOTA BARU - Kite-flying in the vicinity of the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa has become a serious threat to aircraft after four incidents of helicopter rotors being entangled with kites' nylon lines.

Kelantan Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) manager Su'aidi Yusof said there were also similar cases reported by a local pilot training centre involving its single-engine aircraft.

"So far, these incidents have not resulted in any accidents but the rampant kite-flying activity is endangering not only helicopters and light aircraft, but also passenger jetliners and turbo propeller engines as the local kites (wau) are at least 4m in width.

"DCA has taken several measures including advising locals not to fly their kites within a 5km radius of the airport and requesting village heads and imams to remind residents of the grave danger their kites could pose to aircraft," said Su'aidi.

Since last month, DCA has received written complaints from Weststar Aviation Services, which operates helicopter services for oil-rig clients, regarding the kite-flying activity.

"We have also received complaints from the Asia Pacific Flight Training Centre of kite lines getting tangled with their light aircraft," Su'aidi said at a press conference at Weststar Aviation Services office in Pengkalan Chepa here on Monday.

He said DCA handled 1,148 flights in the area a month. In addition, there were 705 aerial movements and 1,674 flight training schedules.

"It's a very busy airspace here and if such kite-flying activity is not curtailed, it may cause disasters to aircraft plying this airport," he added.

According to Rule 91(b) of the Air Control Regulations of the Civil Aviation Act 1969, no balloons or kites are allowed to be flown within a 5km radius of the airport.

"Since this matter has become serious, we have contacted local wau art and culture organisations and other relevant departments to advise kite flyers to be aware of the dangers of flying kites in the vicinity of the airport," he said, adding that there was no law to punish offenders although a wau was capable of flying up to about 460m.