Rodents Invading on Flights

Worldwide, rodents have been the major vertebrate pest group. Rodents are implicated in many types of damage, including crop and tree damage, structural property and cable damage, disease transmission, and significant predation on native species of animals and plants on islands to which rodents have been accidentally introduced. With increasing buzz in the aviation industry and with the vision of our Prime Minister a scheme of UDAN “Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik” was launched by Ministry of Civil Aviation. With the advent of affordable fares it has become the new luxury that the middle and upper middle class can now afford .Another species which is making the most of the affordable air travel is the rodents! Contrary to popular belief they are making these huge carriers their home.

The ways in which rodents can enter an airplane are the airports, jet ways, food carts or food vending companies, cargo etc. Also since the carrier is a confined space they have no means of getting out once they are in. Airports often provide good year round habitat for rodent populations. Rodents at airports can cause damage directly by gnawing and burrowing activities

They not only eat the stored food but also attack the wires and cables, pipes or plastic components used in various equipment’s  which can endanger the safety of people and the electrical equipment. There can be a loss of communication if any of the wire is nibbled on.  Larger rodents (e.g., beaver, porcupine, woodchucks) can pose a direct collision hazard to aircraft moving on the ground. Perhaps the most serious hazard posed by a sizeable rodent population at airports, however, is the indirect hazard of attracting foraging raptors with an associated raptor aircraft strike. Raptors pose one of the most hazardous groups of birds at the airport setting. Unfortunately many of our activities at airports result in good habitat for rodents (e.g., allowing tall grass in an effort to reduce loafing habitat for flocking birds) or reduced predation of rodents (e.g., perch removal, bird hazing, carnivore-proof perimeter fencing)

Below is a news article pertaining to rodents nuisance on plane.

Rat delays US-bound Air India flight by over 9 hours

Aug 28, 2017

NEW DELHI: A rat on board Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight delayed it by over nine hours on Sunday.The Boeing 777 was taxiing at IGI airport to operate one of the world’s longest nonstop flights when the rodent was spotted. As per safety protocol, it had to be brought back to the terminal and fumigated. Then with a new crew, the almost-full flight (AI 173) finally took off around noon on Sunday instead of the schedule time of 2.30am.Air India’s new chairman Rajiv Bansal has taken a serious view of this delay. He has sought a detailed report on how the rat managed to get on the aircraft and how this could be prevented in future.The B-777 was almost full with 172 economy and 34 business class passengers.

Just when the plane was taxiing, the rat was spotted. By the time fumigation was being done, the maximum flying time for the crew — four sets of pilots are needed for this ultra-long haul flight or flight duty and time limitations (FDTL) kicked in. The airline had to, at the last minute, look for a replacement crew,” said a source. So while fumigation of the aircraft, to ensure that the rodent is eliminated, was over in six hours, it took time to find two commanders and two copilots for this flight. The combined impact was that the plane took off with a delay of nine hours. Passengers were unhappy at the long delay.

An aircraft needs to be fumigated after a rodent is sighted to ensure it is eliminated and does not pose a threat to safety by cutting electric wires and sending the systems haywire. “Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires of a plane. If that happens, pilots will have no control on any system on board leading to a disaster,” a senior commander said.

What usually leads to such a situation is that passengers inadvertently drop a lot of food on the cabin floor, which keeps rats busy. The most common way for rats to get on board an aircraft is through catering vans. “This is a universal phenomenon. Rats follow the large storage cases in which food trays are kept. The catering vans are like a home for them as food keeps getting dropped. Rats get on the high lifts that take those storage cases to aircraft and then remain there. This happens across the world,” said an official.

AI flies on the Delhi-San Francisco route over the Pacific, making it the longest flight in terms of distance flown nonstop by a commercial aircraft. The 15,300-km journey covered in 16 to 17 hours needs two sets of crew, with one commander and copilot operating first half of the flight and the other two, the second half. “Taking off with the same crew originally rostered for AI 173 was not possible as their maximum flying duty time would have got over. AI had to look for more pilots and this took additional time,” said a source.

We need to find a solution for the rodents infestation. By using pesticides and killing the species the problem is not solved. Rodents have many important ecological roles. Some of the roles include soil mixing and aeration, seed and spore dispersal, influences on plant species composition and abundance, and a prey base for many predatory vertebrates. By killing we would break the circle of life which would in turn affect us in more multiplied form.

We at CTech Corporation can offer a solution to this problem. Our product Rodrepel™ is a non-toxic, non-hazardous rodent aversive. It does not kill the species but only repels it. It is available in the form of masterbatch which can be directly incorporated in the polymer matrix during processing of wires and cables. This would result in the final cable or wire being rodent repellent. This would be an efficient way of deterring the rodents from chewing the cables and wires.

Rodrepel™ is also available in lacquer form which can be applied directly on the outside as well as inside of the plane and liquid concentrate can be incorporated in the paints while painting the plane. The product can effectively control the proliferation of these undesired pests! Rodrepel™ is RoHS, RoHS2 and REACH compliant and FIFRA exempted.