|The rat that grounded Qantas nailed|
passengers can take to the skies with confidence again after the
airline accounted for a rogue rat that had forced the grounding of a 737
jet several times in the past few weeks.
Fearing the rat might chew through vital aircraft wiring, and having failed to catch it using traditional methods, Qantas called in exterminators on Monday and pumped the jet full of carbon dioxide gas.
Yesterday, the airline was victorious. "We found the rat, unfortunately for it, in a deceased state," said Qantas spokesman Simon Rushton.
"We have removed the body."
The rat was nothing if not wily, evading would-be captors and executioners, despite several attempts to catch it.
Poisoned baits, traps and sticky mats were laid but to no avail.
Qantas was forced to ground the jet for "several days on a number of occasions", Mr Rushton said.
Qantas believes the rat may have boarded the aircraft in Sydney and crisscrossed the country on occasional flights ever since.
It was first spotted by a crew member in the passenger cabin after the plane landed in Melbourne last month.
Mr Rushton was at pains yesterday to insist that Qantas had not risked air safety by flying passengers with a rat on board.
"The aircraft is signed out by our engineers, and that certainly wouldn't happen unless there was complete confidence in the aircraft," he said.
Mr Rushton declined to reveal how much the rat had cost the airline, other than to say: "It's a cost we'd prefer not to be incurring."
The jet was expected to be back in the skies again today.
July 11, 2003
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