Planes taking off from London City airport are at “significant risk” of being brought down by swans, aviation bosses have warned.
Flocks nesting in Docklands have been seen flying close to Britain’s leading business airport, used by almost 8,000 passengers a day.
Airport executives have written pleading with east London residents not to feed the swans “as a matter of urgency” and have ordered a “relocation programme” to reduce the risk.
They say swans flying between Western Beach and Royal Victoria Dock “pose a significant risk of bird-strike” which could cause “a serious threat to aircraft, passengers and the local area.”
Bird strikes, one of the most common causes of air accidents, have been blamed for a number of emergency landings in recent years. The airport has started to move the swans, which are owned by The Queen, to a new home at Windsor. But some alarmed residents want all flights grounded until the programme is complete.
Campaigner Alan Haughton, 39, of nearby Blackwall, said: “If there is this clear and present danger, flights should halt immediately.”
The airport, which got permission to move the birds from Natural England and the Swan Marker, the Queen’s adviser on swans, hopes to protect them but warned that if the programme fails, a cull may be needed.
The airport said: “We have a wildlife management programme in place to ensure any risk is mitigated. We initiated the relocation in the interests of passenger safety and to avoid bird strikes, as well as for the safety and wellbeing of the local community and the swans – 27 were moved and the rest will go in the coming weeks.”
Bosses at London City Airport have been dealing with a serious threat to aircraft — wild swans.
The number of birds congregating close to the Silvertown airport has increased to “unmanageable levels” in recent months.
So-called “bird strikes” are the most common cause of aircraft accidents. Such an incident is believed to have caused the downing of US Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to land in New York’s Hudson River. The City Airport swans have been transferred to a new home in the River Thames at Windsor, with the help of environmental organisations, Newham Council and the Civil Aviation Authority.
Bosses are also launching an awareness campaign to try and avoid flocks congregating in the area. They want residents to avoid feeding wild birds, as it encourages them to settle.
Director of safety Sharon Preston said: “We needed to relocate this flock as a matter of urgency. Their wellbeing is important.”
We would like to thank all of the parties involved in this operation.
“Unfortunately, relocating future flocks may not be an option so we would appeal to the local community to not feed the swans to ensure that this situation does not reoccur.”
London City Airport Safety Risk : Cease all flights immediately
– Flock of Swans in the London City Airport Crash zone– London City Airport admit swans pose a significant risk of bird-strike.– Airport tells residents a single swan can bring down a plane.
London City Airport has continued operating flights while acknowledging that a flock of swans located in the airports Crash Zone pose a significant risk of bird-strike and potentially putting passengers and the public in severe danger.
Bird-strike is the most common cause of aircraft accidents. To make matters worse the swans are located in the London City Airport Public Safety Zone – also known as the Crash Zone – which itself already has a heightened risk of an accident.
The Airport said that “an incident of this nature could cause serious threat to aircraft, passengers and the local area” and was a “matter of urgency” but has continued to operate flights potentially risking both passengers and the public.
London City Airport have already moved a flock and warned residents who they accuse of feeding the protected species that this may not be an option again and have implied that the swans may have to be culled.
Alan Haughton said “London City Airport have demanded that residents not feed the swans due to the safety risk yet continue to put those very same residents at risk with the knowledge that the swans could bring down a plane on top of them. There should be no grey area when it comes to safety. If there is this clear and present danger, flights should be halted immediately until the swans are relocated.”
Alan Haughton 0790 515 6922
(1) London City Airport swan risk information sheet