From bees on windscreen to snakes in cockpit, a look at how reptiles and rodents can threaten aviation safety

Scottish traveller Moira Boxall was shocked to discover a live spotted python in her suitcase after when she reached home in Glasgow after a long flight from Adelaide.

Bikram Vohra September 20, 2019 11:14:52 IST
From bees on windscreen to snakes in cockpit, a look at how reptiles and rodents can threaten aviation safety
  • Scottish traveller Moira Boxall was shocked to discover a live spotted python in her suitcase after when she reached home in Glasgow after a long flight from Adelaide.

  • Air India had a scare on an Airbus 319 as far back as 2008 when a snake wriggled past the crew on a flight from Srinagar to Delhi.

  • Air India even hit a cow on take off for New York from Mumbai.

Talk about the birds and the bees in a different context. A swarm of bees blocked an Air India flight at Kolkata airport couples of days back after settling stubbornly on the windshield and attacking the ground staff who tried to remove them.

From bees on windscreen to snakes in cockpit a look at how reptiles and rodents can threaten aviation safety

Representational image. Reuters

There were 136 passengers on board the flight and it took over three hours to literally drown the swarm with water jets before the flight leaves. Earlier in the year, a mynah bird showed a bit of class perching itself on a seat in the business class of a Singapore Airlines flight bound for Heathrow, all 14 hours. Talk about a free flight.

Wildlife delaying or causing disruption in flights is not unusual.

Snakes have made several unannounced appearances on flight decks. Again, Air India had a scare on an Airbus 319 as far back as 2008 when a snake wriggled past the crew on a flight from Srinagar to Delhi. It disappeared inside a panel and the aircraft had to be fumigated.

As a crisis, this was nothing compared to the arresting moment on an Aeromexico flight when a large snake fell from the overhead bin mid-flight. The flight made a quick landing and animal control took the stowaway into custody. Fortunately, nobody was bitten but you don’t even want to imagine the chaos.

In Darwin 2012 the homo sapien theory was severely tested when a small commuter plane’s pilot saw a snake in the cockpit. He tried to stare it down and it crawled up his leg. But he kept his cool and landed safely without being bitten.

Scottish traveller Moira Boxall was shocked to discover a live spotted python in her suitcase after when she reached home in Glasgow after a long flight from Adelaide.

The serpent had settled into a shoe and even shed skin.

Worse than snakes are mice and squirrels and other rodents. They can chew up the controls and if discovered on a plane it calls for an immediate landing. I was on an Air India flight when this little mouse slithered past and rushed towards the galley clearly enticed by the smells. The crew gave chase as did some of the more adventurous passengers and trapped it finally in a corner of the cabin but it managed to escape and vanish into some spot under the floor. This necessitated informing the captain who decided to fly back to base.

Pets can also cause problems. In 2017  a disruptive and hugely unreasonable passenger was removed from an American Airlines Atlanta to Chicago flight after dressing down a stewardess attendant while letting her dog run through the cabin much to the irritation of the passengers.

Some of the more amusing animal capers include a Spirit Airline flight from North Carolina to Newark that inadvertently played host to bat flying around the cabin and scaring the hell out of everyone. As screams rent the aircrew and some brave passenger managed to capture it in the pages of a book and lock it up in the toilet. Earlier this year a passenger on an Air Malta flight in Canada was bitten by a scorpion that crawled up the back of her neck.

But if animals inside are a threat those outside are even scarier to flight safety. Birds cause billions of dollars damage in BASH(Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard) incidents every year. The famous Sully landed in the Hudson after being hit a flock of geese. Foxes in Manchester, dogs and goats in Mumbai, deer, coyotes and hyenas in the US, polar bears in Alaska, can all trigger go-arounds or aborted takeoffs. Air India even hit a cow on take off for New York from Mumbai.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Lakme Fashion Week 2020 kicks off 'seasonless' digital edition, as hopes ride on online sales in face of coronavirus pandemic
Lifestyle

Lakme Fashion Week 2020 kicks off 'seasonless' digital edition, as hopes ride on online sales in face of coronavirus pandemic

Following a parched few months in luxury retail, can digital fashion weeks like LFW offer greater business to designers?

BJP's Tripura troubles: Biplab Kumar Deb's 'bad governance, dictatorial style' spark internal dissent
Politics

BJP's Tripura troubles: Biplab Kumar Deb's 'bad governance, dictatorial style' spark internal dissent

A team of 12 dissident Tripura MLAs is camping in New Delhi to meet the BJP's national president JP Nadda

'COVID-19 affects virtually nobody!': A president whose words have not aged well
World

'COVID-19 affects virtually nobody!': A president whose words have not aged well

Traditionally, presidents have tried to avoid making statements that might prove embarrassing later on. They choose their words carefully and proceed 'out of an abundance of caution', per the tagline of the moment in Washington