Special Correspondent

Air India spokesman rejects reports that the cockpit was left unattended; a clear case of “indiscipline”

Airhostess lodges complaint with police accusing pilots of misbehaviour

“The Commander was in his seat throughout the flight and never left it”

NEW DELHI: Air India on Sunday set up a three-member committee to probe a scuffle between a co-pilot and a cabin crew member on its Sharjah-Lucknow flight on Saturday morning.

This is in addition to the inquiry initiated by the Delhi police on a complaint filed by an airhostess accusing them of assaulting and misbehaving with her during the flight.

Crew to be quizzed

An Air India spokesman said the committee would question the pilots and crew, but insisted that at no point did any of the two pilots — Commander Ranbeer Arora and Capt. Aditya Chopra — come out of the cockpit. “There was never an instance of no pilot being present in the cockpit,” he said, rejecting reports suggesting that the cockpit had been left unattended.

“The Commander was in his seat throughout the flight and never left it. This can also be corroborated by the recordings of the Cockpit Voice Recorder [black box].” Describing the incident as a clear case of “indiscipline,” he said the Air India management would take stern action against the guilty based on the findings of the inquiry.

The co-pilot and the crew member are alleged to have sustained minor injuries. The matter was reported to the airline authorities when the flight reached Lucknow, and both were de-rostered, pending inquiry. The IC 884 flight from Sharjah to Delhi via Lucknow was carrying 106 passengers.

Case filed against pilots

Our Staff Reporter writes:

The Delhi police have registered a case against the two pilots. “We have registered a case and initiated investigation. One of the cabin crew members has been asked to get his statement recorded. We will also record the statements of other witnesses if they come forward to help us in the investigation,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Operations) Satyendra Garg here on Sunday.

The provisions under which the case has been registered deal with bailable offences. “We will also take the version of the pilots,” said Mr. Garg. The pilots have not been arrested yet.

The plane was over Pakistan when the pilots allegedly entered into an argument with the airhostess and misbehaved with her inside the cockpit. The victim suffered minor bruises on her hand when one of the pilots allegedly pushed her. The airhostess alleged that an attempt was also made to molest her.

Fallout of altercation?

The police are trying to ascertain whether the incident was the fallout of an altercation between the pilots and some crew members during the briefing before the takeoff from Sharjah.