Safety team activated after otters 'invade' Changi Airport

Today Online 14 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — There was a breach at Changi Airport on Tuesday (Nov 14) morning by a group of unusual suspects: a family of otters.

Changi Airport activated its Airside Safety team after its surveillance system detected the animals on its premises.

The otters were eventually guided out towards Changi Beach, a Changi Airport Group (CAG) spokesman said.

"There was no disruption to airport operations," the CAG spokesman added.

The "invasion" by the otters was captured on video which has been shared widely on social media.

Video footage showed close to a dozen of the mammals scurrying around the tarmac, close to a Singapore Airlines plane. At one point in the video, the otters were directly below an aircraft engine.

CAG said that otter sightings are a rare occurrence on Changi Airport's premises.

"Besides regular wildlife patrols, a surveillance system is in place to prevent and detect Foreign Object Debris, including wildlife," the CAG spokesman said.

As Changi Airport is situated close to forested areas and the coast, wildlife straying into its premises is not unusual.

Other common wildlife infringing airport premises include birds.

Birds are a concern for aeroplanes as they may get sucked into an engine or strike the windscreen — a phenomenon known as bird strike.

In 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 safely landed in the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese shortly after take-off, causing the plane to lose power in its two engines.



Otters spotted at Changi Airport tarmac guided out to the beach
Channel NewsAsia 14 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: A rare sight on the tarmac of Changi Airport on Tuesday morning (Nov 14) when a family of otters was seen scurrying near a stationary Singapore Airlines plane.

"The Airside Safety team was activated to guide the otters safely out towards Changi Beach," said a Changi Airport Group (CAG) spokesperson in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.

The spokesperson added that there was no disruption to airport operations.

Changi Airport said its surveillance system detected a family of otters early on Tuesday morning, adding that such sightings on its premises are rare.

"Besides regular wildlife patrols, a surveillance system is in place to prevent and detect foreign object debris, including wildlife," said the CAG spokesperson.

"Safety is a top priority at Changi Airport – should any wildlife be detected on the runway, flight operations will be halted temporarily so that the safety team can attend to the situation immediately."

The otters are likely part of the family spotted at Pasir Ris, said N Sivasothi, a senior lecturer of biological sciences at the National University of Singapore.

Mr Sivasothi, who also runs the OtterWatch group which consolidates otter sightings in Singapore, told Channel NewsAsia that this was his first time he has heard of otters at Changi Airport.

"Otters regularly explore new areas adjacent to their territories to look for suitable places to hunt for food, rest, sleep and breed," he said, adding that the animals also search for new areas when they have lost existing territories.

"If an area is unsuitable, they will not stay there for long."

Mr Sivasothi added that it was important for airports to have a wildlife hazard management plan to prevent wildlife from entering.

As for members of the public who come across otters, Mr Sivasothi's advice is that they should not approach the animals and just enjoy watching them from a distance.


Otters spotted on Changi Airport tarmac
Jan Lee New Paper 14 Nov 17;

Some 10 otters were spotted at Changi Airport early yesterday morning during a heavy downpour, wandering onto the tarmac where a Singapore Airlines plane was parked.

A video clip posted on a Nature Society Facebook page yesterday shows the otters waddling beneath the stationary plane before moving to the runway.

A Changi Airport Group (CAG) spokesman told The New Paper yesterday their airside safety team was activated to guide the otters safely out towards Changi Beach. She said airport operations were not disrupted.

The spokesman added: "Otter sightings are a rare occurrence on Changi's premises. Besides regular wildlife patrols, a surveillance system is in place to prevent and detect foreign object debris, including wildlife. Safety is a top priority at Changi Airport - should any wildlife be detected on the runway, flight operations will be halted temporarily so that the safety team can attend to the situation immediately."

SAFE

Mr Abbas Ismail, course manager for Temasek Polytechnic's diploma in aviation management and services, said that although the otters might be in danger running around the tarmac, flights and passengers should be safe.

He said: "In this instance, there is no aircraft movement, so there should not be any danger."

But Mr Ismail acknowledged there would be a risk to flight safety if the otters found their way onto a plane.

He said: "If they go up into the plane and perhaps bite something or cause some damage that cannot be detected easily, then yes, there is a chance of malfunction."

Wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai said the animals most likely swam upstream from the Changi River.

Mr Rajathurai said: "As the otter population goes up, they have to find new areas for food and homes, so they are constantly on the move.

"This is part of their journey, a temporary excursion."

The otters likely followed the waterway up to the airport. He said better grating for the waterway entry at the airport could resolve the issue.

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