Air India has suspended a pilot and two airhostesses after it was found that the cabin crew had overstayed in the cockpit on a Delhi-bound flight from Bangkok on April 12.

The decision came after reports suggested that the pilot took a nap in the business class after putting the aircraft on auto-pilot mode and allowed the airhostesses to operate the plane for more than 20 minutes, endangering the safety of 166 passengers.

The Director-General of Civil Aviation has already initiated a probe.

In a statement, Air India admitted that the airhostesses had overstayed in the cockpit, but denied that the pilot had allowed them to operate the aircraft. “Based on a report that two cabin crew members were in the cockpit for a prolonged period…, the two were called for an inquiry. As the inquiry confirmed that they had overstayed in the cockpit, administrative action was taken against them and the pilot. They have been suspended pending the final inquiry…”

“It is categorically stated that at no point of time was the cockpit left unattended by the cockpit crew. During the incident, due to distraction, the co-pilot had touched the auto pilot disconnect button momentarily. But the same was connected back,” the statement said.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said: “Such incidents are inquired into, so that you can learn what not to do, how to change things, how to monitor things.”

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