Air India flight delayed for three hours by a swarm of bees

The flight was carrying 136 passengers, including Bangladesh information minister Muhammad Hasan Mahmud

An Air India flight was delayed for three hours after a swarm of bees landed on the cockpit window
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A swarm of bees delayed an Air India flight by several hours after the insects landed on the cockpit window.

Air India flight 743 was due to depart for Agartala from Kolkata at 9.40am on Sunday, September 15, 2019. An initial delay because of a technical error left the plane sitting on the runway in the eastern city of Kolkata, and it was then that a group of bees decided to land on the cockpit window.

The bees swarmed on the left windscreen of the Airbus A319-112. Ground staff tried but failed to get rid of the insects despite trying various methods, including the plane's window wipers.

The plane could not take off, as there was a risk the creatures could be sucked into the engines, which could have "damaged the plane and harmed passengers", said an Air India representative.

Water pumps were eventually used to encourage the bees to leave the aircraft and the flight departed at 12.40am, said Air India.

The flight was carrying 136 passengers and crew, including a delegation from Bangladesh led by the country's Information Minister Muhammad Hasan Mahmud.

The plane landed in the north-eastern city of Agartala at 1.34pm, more than three hours later than scheduled.

Bees disrupting flights

This is not the first time bees have hampered flying.

Last year, two beekeepers were called to remove a swarm of bees that had started building a nest in the engine of a Mango Airlines aircraft in Durban, South Africa. The bees were safely removed but not before three flights were delayed.

In 2015, a Flybe flight travelling from Southampton to Dublin was forced to turn back to base and make an emergency landing after the pilot of flight BE384 reported a suspected technical issue, which turned out to be a bee on board the aircraft.