India’s official state-run airline operator Air India grounded two of its pilots after a fight erupted between the pair just before takeoff.
Air India has suspended two of its pilots, whose identity isn’t being revealed, for allegedly exchanging heated words and perhaps even blows in the cockpit moments before the plane was about to taxi down the runway for takeoff. Though the investigation has yet to reveal the reasons, the co-pilot seems to have launched a verbal assault on his senior when he was asked to go through the pre-flight checks.
The co-pilot allegedly later assaulted the captain inside the cockpit as they were preparing the passenger plane for takeoff from the Indian tourist city of Jaipur to New Delhi on Sunday night. Apparently, the co-pilot was annoyed by his superior’s simple request to write down critical pre-flight information such as the number of passengers on board, takeoff weight, and fuel uptake, shared sources familiar about the alleged scuffle.
“The co-pilot took offense at this and reportedly beat up the captain. [But] in the larger interest of the airline, the commander decided to go ahead with the flight and flew to Delhi.”
Air India strongly maintains that there was no exchange of blows. However, the airline did admit there was only a verbal argument between the pair.
“There were only heated exchanges between the commander and co-pilot over some issue. We have already derostered the two pilots pending an inquiry.”
The state-run carrier has been hit with multiple snags and embarrassing gaffes in the recent past, including staff turning up late for flights and causing the airline to further lose money. Incidentally, Air India has been bleeding money since 2007 and has yet to report any profit since. Owing to the aging fleet, general apathy, and technical glitches due to poor maintenance, Air India is one of the most debt-ridden commercial airlines in the world.
The fight in the cockpit may turn out to be nothing more than a verbal spat, however, even such minor incidents can’t overlooked after the crash of a Germanwings plane last month. Air crash investigators appear to be blaming the poor mental health of the co-pilot, who they claim intentionally crashed the plane killing all 150 people on board.
If the Germanwings plane crash is proven to have been deliberately caused by the co-pilot, then the scuffle between the two pilots should have ideally grounded the flight pending investigation about the mental well-being of the aviators.
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