Air India suspends co-pilot, cabin crew for cockpit ‘overstay’

Mumbai, May 3 (IANS) Adopting a tough disciplinary stand, Air India Friday suspended a co-pilot and two cabin crew members for “over-staying” in the cockpit during a Bangkok-New Delhi flight April 12.

Air India said in a statement here Friday that an inquiry revealed that “two cabin crew members were in the cockpit for a prolonged period” on the flight and that “administrative action has been taken against them and the pilot. They have been suspended pending the final enquiry of the incident”.

However, the national carrier denied reports that the pilots had permitted the two women cabin crew members to allegedly operate the aircraft, endangering the lives of 166 passengers on board.

The Air India move follows a report alleging that the flight captain and co-pilot had left the cockpit after putting it on auto pilot and allowed the two cabin crew members to operate the flight.

Air India denied the allegations, especially that one of the women cabin crew accidentally switched off the auto pilot mode, putting at risk the lives of the passengers aboard.

“At no point… the cockpit was left unattended by the cockpit crew. During the incident, due to distraction, the co-pilot had touched the auto pilot disconnect button momentarily. But it was connected back,” Air India emphasised.

The airline assured passengers that flight safety was paramount and “we take all steps to ensure that safety is not compromised under any circumstances”.

An Air India official said that cabin crew members are allowed to enter the cockpit for specific purposes like serving meals or snacks, but they may remain there for a “reasonable period” only.

“The reasonable period would entirely depend on what kind of service is being provided,” the official said.

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