Flight Or Fight? Air India Grounds Pilots After Reported Cockpit Brawl
Two Air India pilots have been grounded by the airline after getting into an apparent physical altercation in the cockpit.
The Times of India, which first reported the story on Sunday's incident, quoted an unnamed source saying:
"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, takeoff weight and fuel uptake on a small paper card [trim sheet] that is displayed in front of the pilots for the entire duration of the flight. The co-pilot took offence at this and reportedly beat up the captain."
An Air India spokesman told the newspaper that the two men had "an argument ... nothing more." But the paper quoted several airline sources saying the "co-pilot abused and beat up the commander."
The newspaper reported that the airline's director of operations will conduct an investigation into the incident, which occurred just before Flight 611 took off from Jaipur en route to New Delhi. A parallel investigation will be carried out by the national Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the newspaper reported.
The flight proceeded to New Delhi in order not to inconvenience passengers, the newspaper reported. There, the pilot logged the incident and returned to Mumbai, where he lives. The Times of India also reported the co-pilot has been involved in similar incidents in the past.
Air India, India's national carrier, has had a difficult run. Agence France-Presse noted it hasn't reported an annual profit since 2007 and has been "hit by a string of technical glitches and other embarrassing incidents, including staff turning up late for flights." But The Wall Street Journal adds that the airline is trying to improve its image.
"Air India in June joined the Star Alliance, the world's largest grouping of carriers, as part of its effort to cut costs and raise revenue," the Journal reported. "Last week, Air India added a 20th Boeing Dreamliner jet to its fleet. The 787 planes are considered more fuel-efficient than similarly-sized jets."