Bees delay Hyderabad-Pune flight; DGCA to probe how hive was allowed to grow at airport
The flight, which was scheduled to take off at around 6.25pm, took off only at around 7.22pm after a repellent spray was used to clear the insects from the apron area. This
After a swarm of bees held up a Hyderabad-Pune flight last week for more than one hour, the country aviation regulator said it will investigate how a bee hive was allowed to flourish in the airport area.
The flight on July 26 was held up when the ATR 72 - a short-haul aircraft - was besieged by bees. The flight, which was scheduled to take off at around 6.25pm, took off only at around 7.22pm after a repellent spray was used to clear the insects from the apron area. This was the first such incident in the past five years. A Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official on Monday said, “We will look into the matter and necessary action will be taken.”
Air India spokesperson, Dhananjay Kumar, confirmed the incident and said that taking safety as priority, the pilot took necessary precautions before taking off the flight. “The swarms of bees kept coming and settling on the wind screen of the cockpit, not allowing the pilot to push back,” he explained.
The incident took place when the flight was to line up for its scheduled take off. The Flight 9I 867 of Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, couldn’t push back when a group of bees surrounded the twin engine turboprop. Though the aircraft’s door was shut to stop bees from entering it, the pilot got in touch with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) who in turn informed the airport operator. The pilot had to then call for a spray in order to get rid of the bees.
Commenting on the incident, Captain Mohan Ranganathan, aviation safety expert, said, “Bees do not pose a threat to the ATR but the engineers and other ground staff who play a major role before take-off would have found it impossible to perform their functions due to their presence.”
Pilots said that the bee hives shouldn’t be in the airport premises as part of the air safety measures taken in the airport. Former Indian Air Force helicopter pilot and aviation expert, Vipul Saxena, said that the delay will not only be with respect to the safety of the passengers but also for the safety of the cockpit crew.
“The DGCA should take a note of the incident and ensure that they do not occur again,” said a senior pilot associated with a leading airline.