A rat made its way from India’s Mumbai International Airport on to an overseas flight to Doha International Airport last week, sparking embarrassment and concerns about the security of the flight parked in the Indian city’s bays.
Authorities have been struggling to wipe out a “sudden rat menace” at the city’s main airport. At least four airlines – Jet, Continental, Emirates and Qatar – have reported rat sightings along bay numbers 48 to 55 at Mumbai international airport.
“Rodents are a cause of worry as they could damage sensitive aircraft wiring, and this would mean disaster. Rats are fond of gnawing off the insulation paddings in aircraft. This could result in malfunctioning or failure of aircraft systems,” said an American pilot who has brought the matter to the notice of his superiors.
To combat the problem, the Mumbai airport has arranged rat traps to fight with the problem and is making more strict guidelines regarding garbage disposal as poor food wastage disposal has been cited as one of the main reason for the problem.
“It was embarrassing as it has been reported that a rat travelled across to Qatar,” said an airport official. He added that the reason in this case is probably improper hygiene on the part of those who do catering for aircrafts.
An airport official said the organisation is now very strict about garbage disposal from flight. “We discovered that the trash was not properly covered in polythene bags while being moved to places of disposal. Trolleys, ramps, food stores and cabin galleys are not cleaned properly.”
DGCA chief Arun Mishra said “We have guidelines in place for this and they have to be met. Not implementing rodent control measures is a serious matter.”
Rodent presence on an aircraft is certainly troubling, but all flights have built-in alarm systems that set off if there is any break in the wires.
“A flashing light will alert the pilots, and the plane can be diverted to the nearest airport for landing. The crew are trained to know exactly what function each wire carries out and will respond appropriately to deal with the situation,” an airline official said.
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