An Air India Flight from Delhi to San Francisco was forced to turn back because just when the plane was taxiing, a rat was spotted on board.
As per safety protocol, the plane had to be brought back to the terminal and fumigated.
A senior commander said that rats on a plane can lead to a disaster,
Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires of a plane. If that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster.
The Air India flight, Boeing 777, was carrying 172 economy and 34 business class passengers.
Since the plane had come to a halt, the airline needed a replacement crew. A source says,
By the time fumigation was being done, the maximum flying time for the crew — four sets of pilots are needed for this ultra-long haul flight — or flight duty and time limitations (FDTL) kicked in. The airline had to, at the last minute, look for a replacement crew.
It took six hours to ensure that the rodent was eliminated, and then, more time was wasted in finding two commanders and two co-pilots for this flight.
After nine hours of delay, the almost-full flight (AI 173) took off with a new crew.
Air India’s new chairman, Rajiv Bansal, has taken this matter seriously and sought a detailed report on how the rat managed to get on the aircraft.
According to the official, the easiest way for rats to get on board an aircraft is via catering vans.
This is a universal phenomenon. Rats follow the large storage cases in which food trays are kept. The catering vans are like a home for them as food keeps getting dropped. Rats get on the high lifts that take those storage cases to aircraft and then remain there. This happens across the world.