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India’s Jet Airways and an Empty Cockpit

January 21st, 2018 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer the pilots of my commercial flight to be friendly. With each other.

They do not have to be pals swapping gossip, but they should be able to sit in the same cockpit without fighting.

India’s Jet Airways was unable to clear that low bar on New Year’s Day.

Not long after takeoff, on a nine-hour flight from London to Mumbai, the pilots had an argument and the male co-pilot slapped the female pilot, eventually leading to a stretch of time when neither of the pilots was in the cockpit of a Boeing 777.

With 338 passengers and crew on board.

The Times of India carried the story.

Some sort of disagreement broke out in the cockpit, and then came the alleged slapping.

The pilot stormed out of the cockpit and, at least, she did not go marching to the rear of the plane, instead loitering in the galley area.

It sounds like flight attendants talked her into going back to the controls.

That happened, but then she bolted again, and at some point while she was out of the cockpit, the co-pilot walked away from the controls to continue the argument.

Understandably, the rest of the Jet Airways crew was, oh, agitated that neither of the pilots was at the wheel, and eventually they wheedled the combatants back into entering the cockpit and doing their duty.

Yes, we know, planes are mostly run by machines these days, and pilots in many cases are doing nothing but looking at the controls now and then.

But it probably would have made everyone feel better if the pilots, oh, did their jobs and were available to fly the plane, if the need arose.

This is how the Times of India reported it:

“Shortly after the plane took off, the two pilots had a fight. The co-pilot slapped the lady commander and she left the cockpit in tears. She stood in the galley sobbing. The cabin crew tried to comfort her and send her back to the cockpit, but in vain. The co-pilot also kept buzzing (calling from the intercom in the cockpit) the crew, asking them to send the second pilot back,” said sources.

When the cabin crew could not do so, the co-pilot reportedly came out of the cockpit — leaving the cockpit unmanned in gross violation of safety rules — and persuaded the commander to return with him to the controls.

“However, they had a fight for the second time following which she came out again. This time, the cabin crew was quite afraid of the fight happening in the cockpit. They requested her to go to the cockpit and fly the plane safely to its destination,” said sources.

Realizing the fear factor among everyone, she returned to the cockpit and the plane landed safely in Mumbai just after midnight of January 1-2.

Well, then. Scratch Jet Airways from your travel plans to India, at least till they put up a good year or two without pilots vacating the cockpit.

But, too, India is a kind of Wild East in the aeronautic sector. The enormous country with a population of 1.4 billion does not have a settled airline sector: Lots of companies come … and go.

And what does Jet Airways have to say for itself, after the pilot spat at 30,000 feet?

“The airline has reported the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the concerned crew have been de-rostered pending an internal investigation that has since been initiated. At Jet Airways, safety of guests, crew and assets is of paramount importance and the airline has zero tolerance for any action of its employees that compromises safety.”

Terming this a “serious issue”, DGCA chief B.S. Bhullar told the newspaper: “We have ordered an investigation into this and have suspended the privileges of co-pilot’s license pending the probe.”

All good then? A bad actor removed? All systems go?

It would be pretty to think.



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