New Delhi: First it was Indigo, then Vistara and now Jet Airways. Three private players in the aviation industry have been hit by controversies in the last two months, which has led the civil aviation ministry to direct the aviation watchdog Director General of Civil Aviation or DGCA to ensure discipline in the air and among the ground staff.
On Monday, on a Jet Airways flight from London to Mumbai, the captain slapped the co-pilot who rushed out of the cockpit in tears. According to the crew members' statement, the captain kept buzzing for the co-pilot after she walked out, asking the crew to send her back inside the cockpit. Finally, they said, he came out when she refused to return, leaving the plane on auto-pilot. The pilot and the co-pilot are said to be in a relationship.
The DGCA says this is a clear violation of safety standard, which states that two persons should be inside the cockpit at all times. "In this case they were not. What if the auto pilot would have got disengaged or the door of the cockpit would have been jammed when the commander entered pin code at the door of the cockpit," sources in DGCA said.
Minister of State of Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told NDTV, "This incident is being enquired into by the DGCA and as per law action would be taken against the erring staff of the airline."
Sources in the ministry say that the DGCA has been asked to direct Jet Airways to get its act together. "Pilots are supposed to be mentally alert whenever they operate a flight that is why rest for many hours is given to them. But in this case both pilots were carrying mental baggage with them and that is why this incident happened," a senior level officer of the ministry said.
According to the officer, the aviation watchdog has asked Jet Airways to expedite its enquiry into the matter. "Everything is recorded in CCTV camera of the cockpit and voice recorder. So it should not take long," he added.
According to sources in Jet Airways, CCTV footage and voice recording in the cockpit is being analysed to know what led to the altercation.
This was not the first time that security norms have been compromised in the air. Statistics from the civil aviation ministry reveal that safety norms were compromised 431 times in 2016 and 375 times in 2017.
In November, a video emerged showing an IndiGo ground staff restraining and manhandling a passenger. In December, a businessman was arrested for allegedly molesting a teen Bollywood actor aboard an Air Vistara flight. The airline was criticised by the actor for not taking any action until the final descent of the flight.
The International Civil Aviation Organization had blacklisted India a few years ago due to safety reasons and the DGCA fears that incidents like these can lead to a similar situation arising, say sources.