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