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International flight turns back while crew chase flying bat

May 31, 2021 Aviation, Headline News No Comments
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A US-bound B777 airliner turned back and jettisoned fuel during a night flight after passengers and crew reported a bat flying around the business class section, as can be seen below.

The business-class bat sparked panic, reports said. The carrier was Air India, operating a flight from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport, which serves the New York area. The early morning flight departed on time at 2:20am but about 30 minutes into the flight, as stars twinkled outside, passengers sighted a bat flying in the cabin.

Bats can be disconcerting and in India they are also a health hazard, carrying various zoonotic viruses which spread from animals to humans, sometimes causing serious disease or death. Passengers reacted to the bat “with shock and panic” according to the South China Morning Post, though no-one seems to be panicking in the video below:

 

The flight captain reported the presence of a bat to Air Traffic Control, then declared an emergency and turned the plane back to Delhi.

Wildlife staff on the ground prepared to deal with the bat. The flight landed safely back in Delhi at about 3.55am, the Hindustan Times reported.

The plane was evacuated and fumigated – not good news for the bat, whose carcass was later retrieved from the aircraft.

The bat is suspected of having entered the aircraft from a catering trolley. Rats sometimes make their way onto planes in that manner, but it’s rarer for bats to do so.

In August 2015, Air India grounded one of its A321s because several dozen rats were scurrying around the cabin. That flight originated in Kolkata. On landing in New Delhi, passengers departed in a hurry, the aircraft was taken out of service and exterminators were called in.

“The most common way for rats to get on board an aircraft is through catering vans,” the Times of India observed on that occasion.

The same seems to be true of bats.

 

Written by Peter Needham

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