Air India passengers flying to San Francisco had to wait for 9 hours on Sunday after an unwanted passenger — a rodent — forcefully ‘boarded’ AI (173) scheduled to fly at 2:30 am from Indira Gandhi Airport, Delhi.
According to airport sources, AI (173), a Boeing 777, was parked at the Delhi airport almost-full with 172 economy and 34 business class passengers, to operate one of the world’s longest nonstop flights when the rodent was spotted on the plane on Sunday early hours.
According to traffic norms and safety protocols, the Boeing bounded to San Francisco was brought back to the terminal. The passengers took off on Sunday afternoon after the plane was fumigated.
Rajiv Bansal, chairman of Air India has asked for a detail report on how the rat managed to get on the aircraft and how such incidents could be prevented in the future.
A source said, four sets of pilots are needed for the long haul flight. While, the Boeing was being fumigated, Air India was looking for an alternative pilots.
“The rodent and search for alternative crew members delayed the flight,” added the source.
The source added, according to safety protocols, on sighting a rat, a plane has to be fumigated to ensure that the animal does not pose a threat to safety.
A pilot who wished anonymity said, “Risks cannot be taken in case of a rodent sighting. They pose a threat to the safety of the plane as they can cut crucial wiring which can send complete controls in haywire.”