Bees on Plane: Air India flight carrying Bangladesh Minister delayed

Bad weather, technical failure, late-arriving aircraft are some of the reasons for flight delays. Added now is a swarm of bees! An Air India flight was delayed by 3 hours when a swarm of bees landed on the cockpit window, causing chaos before take-off. The bees attacked ground staff who attempted to remove them so that the Kolkata-Agartala flight could take off. The flight had 136 passengers on-board, including Bangladesh information minister Muhammad Hasan Mahmud.

Bees hinder Air India takeoff

Air India flight 743, scheduled for Agartala was due to leave the city of Kolkata with 136 passengers and crew on board when it faced a swarm of insects. The pilots had noticed the bees when they were already taxiing to the runway, ready for takeoff. Their vision was obstructed by thousands of bees clamped onto the window of the flight deck. As there was a risk the creatures could be sucked into the engines, the pilots immediately stopped the aircraft to avoid any potential damage to the engines. The plane already had an initial delay because of a technical error prior to the discovery of the bees.

Water Cannons called for Air India Flight

The bees swarmed on the left windscreen of the Airbus A319-112. The pilot tried to remove the bees by using windscreen wipers but it didn’t work. Ground staff tried but failed to get rid of the insects. After realizing it was impossible for them to take off before eliminating the bee-threat, the pilot radioed air traffic control. They redirected the plane to another bay and alerted ambulance and fire services. The firemen were called upon to help with the situation. Eventually, firefighters showcased their skills by carefully aiming a water cannon at the disruptors. While the water jet successfully washed away the problem, the tenacious bees kept returning to the windshield, clearly very infuriated with the plane, for some reason. Finally, they admitted defeat, clearing the aircraft to fly.


Are planes allowed to take off if insects are on the cockpit window

Honey bees can be up to 15mm in length with queen bees measuring up to 20mm.  And bees often swarm when a queen bee leaves her colony to find a new home with other worker bees. However, planes are not allowed to take off if insects are on the cockpit window. The swarm hampers pilots’ visibility. Also, there are chances of bees entering the air probes of the engine. Each aircraft has several small probes that determine the static pressure and the total pressure of an airflow within the vicinity of the aircraft. Being extremely sensitive, the airspeed indicators can go wrong and lead to major accidents even if one bee goes inside the probe.

Kolkata airport – Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International

It is one of India’s busiest airports, processing 21.8 million passengers every year. Also, the airport is known as one of the country’s most modern airports, using solar panels to generate energy. In the wake of the incident, airport staff are carrying out checks for bees and beehives on any structures inside the airport. Perhaps, they might have come from outside the airport premises.


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