An Air India flight originally destined for London was forced to turn back after passengers reported seeing a rat on board the aircraft. Flight AI 131 returned to its origin airport of Mumbai after the sighting of the rodent alarmed those on the flight, according to BBC News.
The rodent was reportedly spotted as the plane was passing over Iran on Wednesday, sparking panic amongst passengers and prompting the pilot to turn around and return to Mumbai, according to the New York Daily News.
While a spokesperson for Air India released a statement saying "the presence of the rodent was not confirmed," the decision of the pilot to turn the flight around was a precautionary measure arising from safety concerns, according to BBC News.
All passengers on board the flight were put on a replacement plane to London later that day, according to The Guardian.
Air India also assured its patrons that the original aircraft would be fumigated and fully checked by maintenance staff before being returned to service, according to BBC News.
Rats have been known to chew through wires and cables, making them a significant technical hazard if on board an aircraft. In July, another Air India flight destined for Milan had to return to Delhi as a result of a suspected rat sighting, according to Yahoo! News. It was not the only problem sustained by Air India that day, with the Guardian reporting that another flight was aborted in the northern Indian city of Amritsar after a pilot saw a stray dog on the runway and a plane collided with a catering truck at an airport in New Jersey.
These incidents come only two weeks after an Air India service engineer Ravi Subramanium was killed after being sucked into the engine of a plane.