Bees in South African plane's engine delay flights

Published: September 28, 2018 15:48:24 | Updated: October 02, 2018 17:07:08

A bee expert says the swarm was probably resting before moving on. Photo: Mango Airlines

A swarm of bees flew into the engine of a Mango Airlines plane, forcing a delay in flights at the main airport in South Africa's coastal city of Durban.

Bee experts were called in and they safely removed the estimated 20,000 bees from the engine, the low-budget airline said.

The incident was extremely unusual, and the bees were probably resting before planning to fly on, one expert said.

It was unlikely they intended to make a "smelly" engine their home, he added.

The bees populated the engine in less than 25 minutes, and delayed three passenger flights at King Shaka International Airport, Mango Airlines spokesman Sergio dos Santos said.

"I have certainly never seen anything like this in my eight years in the aviation industry," he told South Africa's News24 website.

It took a while for the removal team, from the privately owned A Bee C company, to get approval from the airport authorities to get on to the runway.

It was a "quick job" to remove the swarm once permission was granted, A Bee C's Melvyn Dawson said.

"We have encountered some unusual bee removals, but this was a first for me," he told News24.

The bees were now at the home of his brother, a beekeeper, and would be taken to farms, Mr Dawson said.

Mike Miles, the chairman of the South African Bee Industry Association, said the bees were probably taking a break in the engine, BCC reported.

"Normally those places are greasy, smelly and hot and not at all ideal as a permanent home for bees. Bees prefer secluded wood cavities. This is very unusual," he was quoted as saying.

It's not the first time a swarm of bees have caused problems for air passengers.

In 2015, an Airbus-319 plane at Moscow Airport was reportedly delayed for an hour due to bees attack, it was about to start taxiing ahead of taking off from Vnukovo Airport bound for St Petersburg, according to Daily Mail.

Another flight was delayed in April 2015 when a massive swarm of bees managed to ground a Minnesota-bound Allegiant airlines flight after first clouding the windshields and then getting sucked into the plane's engines.

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