The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued guidelines in the wake of the risks posed by the locust swarms during the landing and takeoff phase. The aviation regulator said that almost all air intake ports of the aircraft will be prone to ingestion in large numbers if the aircraft flies through a swarm. "Pilot and static sources can also get partially or fully blocked while flying through locust swarms. Blocked pilot and static sources lead to erroneous instrument indications, especially unreliable air speed and altimeter indications," the DGCA said.
It said that though an individual locust is small in size but the impact of large numbers on the windshield may impact the pilot forward vision. "Use of wipers at times may cause the smear to spread even more, pilot should this aspect prior to opting to use wipers to remove locust from the wind shield," the aviation regulator said in its advisory.
The DGCA further said that large swarms could also obstruct visual ground contact over a large area, therefore flights under Visual Flight Rules also need to be aware of their presence. "Air traffic controllers, when aware of locust presence in the vicinity of their aerodrome, are advised to share the information with all arriving and departing flights," the DGCA said in its guidelines.
It has also advised all pilots to share information of locust swarm locations if they have sighted any during the flight. "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 them."
"Post a flight through a locust swarm appropriate entry in the pilots defect log should be made giving details of any malfunction experienced and the engineering crew should conduct checks as mandated prior to release of aircraft for next flight. Ground handling agencies should be aware that locust swarms pose risk to parked aircraft where possible air inlets and probe should be covered," the DGCA said in the detailed advisory.