An Ethiopian Airlines flight from Djibouti was forced to divert after running afoul of an enormous swarm of grasshoppers mid-air, splattering the engines and cockpit with insects and seriously hampering the pilots’ visibility.
The initial encounter on January 9 was light enough that the pilots decided to continue on to their destination of Dire Dawa, but then hit a second and much heavier volley of the insects, according to local reports.
The crew tried landing at their destination twice with an insect-splattered windshield, before abandoning the airspace to the grasshoppers and diverting to Addis Ababa, where the flight landed safely some 30 minutes later. Photos of the aircraft show how much the pilots’ visibility was reduced after the grasshopper strike.
طائرة #الخطوط_الأثيوبية ، رحلة ET363# ، من نوع B737-700 تصطدم بأسراب الجراد أثناء الهبوط التدريجي لمطار ديرداوا قادمة من جيبوتي.
قائد الطائرة قرر المواصلة والهبوط بسلام #اخبار_الطيران ✈️ pic.twitter.com/YsyvlIAWmj
— عشاق عالم الطيران (@AviationWG) January 12, 2020
Big swarms of insects pose a range of safety concerns for aircraft, as they can block up engine parts and seriously limit pilot visibility.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization recently issued an alert about major locust and grasshopper invasions in the Horn of Africa.
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