An Air India Boeing 777 returned to its origin airport in Delhi, because cabin crew spotted a bat flying in the aircraft!
Through no fault of their own, bats got some bad press in the last 18 months. Aviation has certainly felt the effects of events, relating to these winged mammals. But one Air India flight in particular, had to deal with a bat, in a direct and rather expensive way.
This was flight AI-105, from Delhi (VIDP), India, to Newark Airport (KEWR), NJ, USA. After their climb out of Delhi, the crew appear to have put the aircraft in a holding pattern. After reaching 30,000 feet and performing several patterns, the crew elected to return to Delhi. The reason was that cabin crew saw a bat flying around, through the business class area.
Air India Diverting With A Bat
After this unique bat-related decision, the Air India 777 changed position and continued flying in a pattern, possibly to dump fuel. It returned for an otherwise uneventful landing on runway 28 in Delhi. The aircraft had stayed in the air for about 100 minutes. The passengers boarded another Air India 777, which reached Newark with a 3.5-hour delay.
This wasn’t the end of the story, however. Air India reportedly had to fumigate the incident aircraft, after removing the bat. The incident happened on the 27th (Thursday), but the aircraft only returned to service over 28 hours later! This is a Boeing 777-337(ER), that the airline has had in service for thirteen years.
We have seen stories before about animals making their way into aircraft, with flights subsequently diverting. And if cats can successfully sneak into parked jets, flying bats probably have an advantage, as Air India found. When pets or other animals make it into the cockpit, the situation can become dangerous. A terrified, hostile cat can be more than a mere distraction. Fortunately, this bat remained in the cabin.
Still, it is not often that we hear of bats flying at 30,000 feet…