Air India pilot and co-pilot removed from duty after cockpit fight

Air India Crew

A pilot and co-pilot have been removed from duty after a dispute in the cockpit that witnesses said involved physical violence.

The co-pilot reportedly "beat up" the captain of Air India Flight 611 before the flight took off from Delhi, airport sources told the Times of India. But an airline spokesperson downplayed the incident.

"The two had an argument," the airline said in a statement to the newspaper. "They have settled the issue." However, the description from sources makes the "issue" sound more serious:

The commander told his co-pilot to take down critical take off figures for the flight. This involves writing critical facts like number of passengers on board, take off weight and fuel uptake on a small paper card that is displayed in front of the pilots for the entire duration of the flight. The co-pilot took offense at this.

The captain continued the flight from Jaipur to Delhi. If he had reported the incident on the ground, the flight would have been cancelled.

The co-pilot was reportedly involved in similar incidents in the past, according to the Times of India. In one complaint against him, he is said to have told the pilot to exit the cockpit and challenged him to a fight. In another, a captain complained that the co-pilot was "rude and unbecoming" — enough to question his state of mind.

The airline said both men had been suspended from flying while the incident is being investigated.

Discussions of aviation safety have been tense since the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. Investigators say the co-pilot — after locking the pilot out of the cockpit — deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all those aboard.

Air travel is rapidly expanding in the Asia, but not without growing pains. There have been recurring pilot shortages, as well as problems with air traffic control systems and airport infrastructure.

"We're in uncharted waters," said Desmond Ross, principal at DRA International aviation consultants and former head of the Pacific Aviation Safety Office, which oversees airline safety for South Pacific islands. "I don't think the world has seen this sort of growth before."

One-third of airplane accidents in the Asia-Pacific region from 2008 to 2012 "involved deficiencies in regulatory oversight," One-third of airplane accidents in the Asia-Pacific region from 2008 to 2012 "involved deficiencies in regulatory oversight," the International Civil Aviation Organization said in a report this year. Another 27% involved "deficiencies in safety management."

Despite the many thousands of flights that make it safely to their destinations, pilots are coming under scrutiny after the tragedy.



21 Oct 2018 - 12:09

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