Last updated: 04:52 PM ET, Fri July 31 2015

'Suspected Rat Sighting' Grounds Air India Flight

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | July 31, 2015

'Suspected Rat Sighting' Grounds Air India Flight

The list of places where its a bad sign to see a rat is seemingly endless and includes just about every indoor space with the exception of a science lab. Well, you can add airplane to that list. 

An Air India flight traveling from Delhi, India to Milan, Italy was forced to turn around two hours into the trip Thursday after sources said several passengers and crew members reported seeing a rat in the cabin, the Times of India reported. 

The flight changed course after the alleged rat sighting, but had to dump a significant amount of fuel in order to ensure a safe landing. 

"The Delhi-Milan flight on Thursday returned to Delhi due to a suspected rat sighting," said an airline spokesperson via the Times. "Though 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. However, the aircraft will be fumigated as per procedure." 

While it may not seem like rats pose a threat to passengers and crew, they can cause serious problems by chewing electric wires. In some cases, "if that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster," a senior commander told the Times. 

An aviation official told the Times that its not all that uncommon for a rat to make its way onto an airplane and that they typically get aboard via catering vans.

"This is a universal phenomenon. Rats follow the large storage cases in which food trays are kept," said the official. "The catering vans are like a home for them as food keeps getting dropped. Rats get on the high lifts that take those storage cases to aircraft and then remain there. This happens across the world."

The Times reported that Thursday's incident marks the second time that a rat has grounded an Air India flight since late May. 

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