False Alarm: Goats Cut Cheese on Freighter Plane, Cause Emergency Landing

Flatulence from more than 2,000 goats triggered smoke alarms in the cargo hold, forcing pilots to divert the flight.

SIDNEY – This may be the mother of all nuisance alarms.

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 was making a routine flight from Australia to Malaysia last week when its smoke alarm went off. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? Not in this case. The alarm was triggered by massive amounts of methane that had accumulated inside the fuselage.

Pilots received an alert that the smoke alarms in the cargo hold had been activated. The plane made an emergency landing in Bali, and after the aircraft was inspected, no fire or smoke was discovered. But there were 2,186 goats traveling on that flight.

According to Aviation Herald, the gas produced by the goats was enough to trigger the smoke alarms on the freighter plane. The flight was able to take off after almost three hours on the ground in Bali, later landing in Kuala Lumpur without any other gas-or-goat related incident.

Goats are in a class of mammals called ruminants, which also includes cows, deer, giraffes and sheep. Most of them have four compartments in their stomachs, and digesting food is a multistep process that involves regurgitating whatever they’ve eaten before swallowing it again.

Their stomachs can contain hundreds of microbes that aid in the digestion process, but – as a side effect – produce methane gas.

If you’ve got a better false fire alarm story, do tell.

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