Two Indian pilots from India’s low cost domestic carrier SpiceJet have been suspended and the Airline Company issued a show cause notice after a video that showed them celebrating the Indian festival of Holi by dancing and singing whilst on duty went viral on YouTube. India’s equivalent to the FAA, the Director General Of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken serious note of the offense and is mulling further action against SpiceJet.
Holi, or the festival of colors is celebrated in most of North India and is a popular festival in the country. In 2014, the festival was celebrated on Monday, March 17. On the day SpiceJet in an apparent move to increase customer satisfaction decided to perform small dance sequences on eight of its flights. The Cabin crew danced to popular Bollywood numbers for slightly over two minutes. Some enthusiastic passengers too joined in. As expected during such an event, fellow passengers managed to capture a video of the same. In one of the videos, a pilot is seen emerging from the cockpit to join in the celebrations, taking photographs and joining in the fun. This doesn’t seem to have gone too well with the Indian authorities. They have suspended two pilots who were manning the flights and have now threatened to revoke the license of SpiceJet, should they not provide a satisfactory explanation to the serious safety lapse. A Zee News report cited an official from DGCA who claimed that the act by the pilots “constituted violation of all safety norms.”
The report adds that the DGCA has summoned senior officials from the Airline Company and sought an explanation. The Airline also has been given 15 days to respond to the notice following which further action might be taken – including a threat to cancel SpiceJet’s license. The Airline on its part has confirmed that they are “looking in to the issue” in co-operation with the DGCA.
Company officials in the meantime have defended the pilots by clarifying that the cockpit was at no point of time unmanned. “The cockpit was manned at all time as per DGCA regulations that govern the situation when one pilot is outside for example to use the lavatory,” a SpiceJet spokesperson told reporters, according to India Today.
The SpiceJet spokesperson went on to add that the dance sequence was professionally choreographed and is in line with what several other airlines have done in the past. The length of the performances were roughly 2.5 minutes, he clarified. There were extra crew members on board the flights that were designated to have these performances.
At a time when Airline companies are under close scrutiny following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, was it a bad move on the part of SpiceJet to involve its pilots too in a mid-air dance sequence? Or is the DGCA right is making a fuss of this seemingly minor safety violation?
[Image Via YouTube]