Lon­don-bound AI flight re­turns to city af­ter rat spot­ted on board

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Soub­hik Mitra soub­hik.mitra@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: A Lon­don-bound Air In­dia (AI) flight car­ry­ing 240 pas­sen­gers from Mum­bai re­turned to the city on Wed­nes­day morn­ing af­ter a cabin crew spot­ted a rat on board mid-air.

Ac­cord­ing to air­line sources, the Dream­liner air­craft, which left the city on sched­ule at 7am, was in the Tehran airspace when the crew got a “fleet­ing glance” of a ro­dent. The pi­lot then got in touch with the Mum­bai air traf­fic con­trol (ATC) tower, in ac­cor­dance with the safety rules laid down by the Direc­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion (DGCA), and de­cided to turn back. The flight ar­rived in the city around 12.50pm, ATC of­fi­cials said.

Af­ter the pas­sen­gers got off the flight, the air­craft was taken to a re­mote park­ing bay to carry out an in­spec­tion and fu­mi­ga­tion ex­er­cise pre­scribed by the safety reg­u­la­tor, air­port of­fi­cials said.

An AI spokesper­son con­firmed the flight was di­verted back to the city as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure.

“AI 131, Mum­bai to Lon­don, re­turned to Mum­bai be­cause of sus­pected rat sight­ing. Al­though the pres­ence of the ro­dent was not con­firmed, keep­ing pas­sen­ger safety in mind, the air­craft was brought back. Air In­dia gives ut­most im­por­tance to safety. Our engi­neer­ing team is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent. A standby air­craft was made avail­able to fly the pas­sen­gers to Lon­don. The air­craft with the sus­pected ro­dent will be fu­mi­gated ac­cord­ing to the pro­ce­dure,” said the air­line spokesper­son.

The pas­sen­gers were put in an­other air­craft which was sched­uled to leave the city around 6.15pm.

It may be re­called that on July 30, a Milan-bound AI flight went back to the Delhi air­port two hours af­ter it took off, owing to sus­pected pres­ence of a rat on board.

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