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Rats force Air India to ground plane


Rodent Menace: Rats delayed a domestic flight from Mumbai by almost two hours in February, and in 2009 a flight to Toronto was delayed for 11 hours as staff tried to catch rats. – AFP file photograph

New Delhi: Air India has been forced to ground one of its planes after crew spotted rats scurrying around the cabin, The Times of India reported Wednesday.

The plane was on its way from New Delhi to Calcutta when staff became aware of the infestation, the paper said.

"Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires," the paper quoted an unnamed airline official as saying.  

"If that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster."
No one at the airline was immediately available for comment, but an Air India  official speaking on condition of anonymity said that rats on planes were a "common phenomenon" worldwide and could "get in anywhere".

"They follow the catering vans into the plane when they smell the food," the official said. It is not the first time that Air India, India's loss-making carrier, has suffered a rodent infestation on board. Rats reportedly delayed a domestic flight from Mumbai by almost two hours in February, and in 2009 a flight to Toronto was delayed for 11 hours as staff tried to catch rats. 

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