I think this qualifies as one of the stranger reasons for a flight diversion…
Bat starts flying around Air India cabin
On Thursday, May 27, 2021, Air India flight AI105 had quite an adventure. A Boeing 777-300ER with the registration code VT-ALM was scheduled to operate the ultra long haul flight from Delhi to Newark.
The plane took off from Delhi at 2:27AM as scheduled, but about 30 minutes after takeoff a bat started flying around the cabin.
Initial reports had suggested that the crew spotted a dead bat carcass in business class, though the video footage suggests that the bat was alive and well during this incident.
The pilots were made aware of this, and they made the decision to return to Delhi. This required entering a holding pattern in order to dump fuel, since the plane was too heavy to land. So the plane ended up flying for nearly two hours, before returning to Delhi in the early hours of the morning.
It’s suggested that the plane was cleaned and fumigated, though it would appear that Air India still ended up flying a different aircraft to Newark.
At 6:37AM an Air India Boeing 777-300ER with the registration code VT-ALU ended up taking off for Newark. It operated the 14hr19min flight, and landed at 11:25AM, which was 3hr30min behind schedule.
That delay isn’t bad at all when you consider the amount of time spent dumping fuel along with how long it takes to swap planes. It also makes me wonder if the same crew ended up operating the second flight? Either they did an amazing job finding a replacement crew quickly, or this crew had an extremely long day.
That’s an expensive diversion…
Initial reports had suggested that the flight diverted due to a bat carcass being found in the cabin, rather than due to a live bat flying around the cabin the cabin. I was confused by the initial report, since I’m not exactly sure what a diversion would have accomplished.
However, the fact that there was a live bat flying around the cabin sheds a lot more light on this situation. I can see how a bat could get on a plane while it’s parked on the ground and the door is open. I guess the only surprising part is that the bat only started flying around the cabin 30 minutes into the flight.
This is obviously a tricky situation, as diversions are expensive and time consuming, and the fuel dumping alone probably cost the airline tens of thousands of dollars (and that doesn’t even account for the environmental impact).
At the same time, I’m not sure there’s a better solution if there’s a bat flying around? I guess there’s not a practical way for the crew to capture the bat, so returning and starting over was probably the only option.
A bat flying around the cabin of an Air India Boeing 777 caused quite a commotion. The Delhi to Newark flight ended up returning to India, which required dumping fuel, and also delayed the flight by several hours.
I suppose there’s not really a great alternative here, and if anything, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.