The last thing one needs while flying thousands of feet above the ground is for some flatulent sheep to set off the smoke alarm.
Air travel comes with a whole new set of challenges and inconveniences. Far too many things — including weather conditions, flying birds, mechanical issues, annoying passengers, etc. — could go wrong at the blink of an eye and add to the stress of zooming across the sky in a metal container. Not to mention the rigorous and time-consuming airport security and boarding formalities that would put even the most zen passengers' patience to the test. Therefore, the last thing one needs while at thousands of feet above the ground is for some flatulent sheep to set off the smoke alarm.
As incredulous as it sounds, this is precisely what is said to have happened onboard a Singapore Airlines flight from Sydney, Australia to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia a few years ago. According to a report in The Aviation Herald — a website that records aviation incidents — a Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 freighter plane was diverted to Bali Denpasar on October 26, 2015, after "exhaust gasses and manure produced by" 2186 sheep onboard the flight caused the smoke detector to go off.
The four crew members on board flight SQ-7108 at the time had reportedly received a smoke indication in a cargo bay. However, when emergency services boarded the aircraft upon landing and checked it from end to end, they found no trace of fire, heat, or smoke, reports Daily Mail. The aircraft was able to depart again after about two and a half hours on the ground in Denpasar and reached Kuala Lumpur roughly two hours later than scheduled. Addressing the bizarre incident in a statement, an SIA spokesman said: "On 26 October 2015, a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 freighter aircraft carrying a shipment of goats, operating as SQ7108 from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur diverted to Bali after the crew received a warning from the onboard fire alarm system."
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"The aircraft landed at 5.11 pm local time and upon inspection, no evidence of fire or smoke was found. The aircraft was certified serviceable and departed at 8.20 pm local time. It delivered its shipment safety to its destination in Kuala Lumpur at 11.16 pm local time," they added. The spokesman refused to confirm claims that animal flatulence had caused the landing, saying: "It is not able to be confirmed. Inspections were carried out on the ground and the aircraft was certified serviceable."
However, the airlines later told the Singaporean newspaper Today that there's no evidence gassy livestock were responsible for the smoke alarm. "That is an assumption being made by media, which we are unable to confirm," a spokesperson told the outlet. Simon Hradecky, the founder of The Aviation Herald, hit back at this statement by telling The Huffington Post that the Herald got its information from an official report from Bali’s Denpasar Airport. "I am aware that [Singapore Airlines] are disputing our coverage. Fact is, that emergency services and maintenance at Denpasar decided this was the cause," said Hradecky.
"Had the cause been different the aircraft would not have been able to depart again after just two hours," he added. While we may never know for sure if it was, in fact, sheep farts that forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing, this wasn't the first time the airline flew into some unique mid-flight trouble. Not long before the sheep flatulence incident, a Singapore-bound Boeing 777-200 from Istanbul Ataturk Airport reportedly flew into a flock of storks while gaining altitude. The impact damaged the flight's radome — a weatherproof protective shield for its radar antenna.