This Article is From Jan 15, 2024

Man Who Slapped IndiGo Pilot Was Sitting In Plane For Several Hours

In a lengthy post on X, Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the "unprecedented fog" had led to, at times, "zero visibility" and this forced authorities to briefly shut down ops at the Delhi airport.

Man Who Slapped IndiGo Pilot Was Sitting In Plane For Several Hours
New Delhi:

The IndiGo passenger who slapped the captain of a Delhi-Goa flight may have been sitting in the plane, with his 100-odd co-passenger, for nearly 10 hours, waiting for the Airbus A20 to take off, sources told NDTV Monday afternoon. The passenger - identified as Sahil Kataria - reportedly ran up from his seat in the last row to slap co-captain Anup Kumar as he was announcing a further delay.

The incident took place on IndiGo's 6E2175 service from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport to Dabolim in Goa. The plane was scheduled to take off at 7.40 am but, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, only departed at 5.33 pm, after prolonged delays to bad weather included heavy fog limiting visibility, and an enforced change of crew due to flight duty time limitations.

The disturbing video of the assault - widely shared online - also shows IndiGo crew rushing to help Mr Kumar, and members of the cabin crew hysterically remonstrating with Mr Kataria, telling him (in Hindi), "You can't do this... you can't do this!". To this he responded, "Why can't I do this? Why can't I?"

READ | Video: IndiGo Flier Hits Pilot After 13-Hour Flight Delay, Case Filed

Dragged away by a fellow flier, Mr Kataria faces a case filed by the airline and the flight captain, and is now in the custody of Delhi Police. He could also be put on the dreaded 'no-fly' list, sources said.

IndiGo Flight 6E2175 Delay

Sources said passengers were boarded at 7 am for the 7.40 am departure.

Take-off was then pushed back twice - first by nearly three hours to 10.30 am then by a further two hours to 12.30 pm. A further two hours after that - at 2.30 pm - the plane's doors were closed.

READ | Flight Delay, Long Wait: Why Did IndiGo Passenger Attack Pilot On Plane

This is significant because commercial aviation protocols state that departure slots will only be assigned once the plane's doors are shut, and the sooner they are locked the quicker each plane will be allowed to depart. This is why airlines sometimes board earlier than indicated on their schedules.

Also, according to aviation protocols, once a plane's doors are shut the passengers may not leave the flight. There are multiple reasons for this, including security. Passengers who disembark will go back into the terminal and must pass baggage checks a second time, which will create more delays.

READ | Dense Fog, Low Visibility In Delhi Impact IndiGo Flight Operations

Therefore, once the doors on 6E2175 were shut, the more than 150 passengers on board had no choice but to sit in their seats and wait for a departure slot that may or may not be assigned quickly.

In this case, it was not and the earlier delays - caused at least partly by bad weather - triggered a further delay since a new crew had to be assigned to the plane. According to FDTL norms, or flight duty time limitation, cabin and flight crews can only work a fixed number of hours at a time.

Anup Kumar, the captain attacked by Sahil Kataria, was part of the replacement crew.

READ | Angry Flier Who Hit IndiGo Pilot Apologised, Then This Happened

Unfortunately for pax on 6E2175, the change in crew was not a good omen; Mr Kumar was announcing another delay in departure when he was charged down and assaulted.

After being restrained, Mr Kataria was handed over to Delhi Police. To do this, the plane had to re-open the door and this caused yet another delay as the flight was bumped down the departure list.

Eventually 6E2175 took off at 5.33 pm, according to FlightAware.

Centre Blames Fog

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has issued a statement on Sunday's plane delays.

READ | "Unprecedented Fog In Delhi": Aviation Minister J Scindia On Airport Chaos

In a lengthy post on X, Mr Scindia said the "unprecedented fog" had led to, at times, "zero visibility" and this had forced authorities to shut down operations on the Delhi airport's runways.

At least one other flight - an Air India service to Vienna in Austria - experienced similar problems after passengers were kept inside the plane for several hours.

With input from agencies

NDTV is now available on WhatsApp channels. Click on the link to get all the latest updates from NDTV on your chat.