Young Kestrels Found In Airbus A320 APU In Wales

Two young kestrels were found not a moment too soon in an Airbus A320 exhaust system on Tuesday. Looking a little worse for wear, the chicks had not eaten for days when they were spotted by engineers in a hangar at St Athan in southern Wales. The feathery creatures have transferred to a dedicated bird hospital, and the A320 is being serviced to soon join its new operator, an Egyptian startup airline named – SkyBird.

Kestrel Chicks in an APU
The chicks were discovered in the APU of an A320. Photo: RSPCA Cymru

Lucky to be alive

Upon discovery of the orphans, the engineers immediately phoned the RSPCA Cymru, who rescued the two little feathery fellas and sent them to the Gower Bird Hospital for rehabilitation. RSPCA Inspector Simon Evans said in a statement that he had no doubt the baby birds were rescued just in the nick of time.

“These little chicks are lucky to be alive – and we’re so relieved and grateful to the engineers who spotted them and sounded the alarm. (…) Kestrels are less common than a lot of people think – but rescuing any animal from an aircraft is certainly a new one on me.”

Kestrel Chicks in an APU
The chicks were rescued just in time. Photo: RSPCA Cymru

The aircraft had been sitting on the runway at St Athan’s since last August. However, it was recently moved into the hangar for repairs, and it is thought that the mother had not come to feed them since.

APU not operated before entering hangar

The two kestrels have been nicknamed Umit and Lucky after the engineers who discovered the two pairs of eyes peering back at them from inside the exhaust of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). After notifying the RSPCA, Umit Atas and Luciano “Lucky” Ferriera presented the chicks with a bowl of water and some cooked chicken. When checking on them 15 minutes later, both the food and the water were gone.

Kestrel Chicks in an APU
The RSPCA said it was a new one on them! Photo: RSPCA Cymru

“The rescue caused a lot of interest in the hangar, and all were relieved to see the chicks removed without harm. One thing we were all grateful for was that normally we would operate the APU before entering the hangar to carry out function checks – this wasn’t needed otherwise, the chicks would have met an untimely and scary end to their short lives,” Paul Nash, the base maintenance manager, said in a statement.

Young Kestrels Found In Airbus A320 APU In Wales
The last operator of the aircraft in question was Latvian charter carrier Smartlynx. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Heading to Egypt and SkyBird Airlines

The temporary nest Airbus A320 is currently registered as 2-ACSJ. It first entered service with Air France in 2002. It was transferred to Latvian charter operator SmartLynx in 2014, from when it bounced back and forth between the Riga-based carrier and now-defunct leisure specialist Thomas Cook. 

In December last year, Aero Capital Solutions bought the plane from Carlysle Aviation Partners. It is now being prepared to transfer to its new operator – recently established Egyptian low-cost carrier SkyBird Airlines. The startup is a joint initiative between Saudi and Egyptian partners, established in 2018, but still waiting for its first aircraft.

While the information on exact routes is still scarce, the airline says on its website it intends to ‘contribute to the ever-increasing demand on travel’ within a five-hour range from Egypt.