Air India has strongly denied reports that a punch-up occurred in the cockpit of one of its aircraft, saying that any dispute between pilots was merely verbal.
It’s the second time a report of cockpit fisticuffs has surfaced this year. This time, the carrier admitted there were “some tense scenes” that resulted in the two pilots concerned being grounded, Indian reports stated.
The airline “derostered” the pilot and the co-pilot concerned after the co-pilot allegedly assaulted the captain as they were preparing for takeoff from the Indian tourist city of Jaipur to New Delhi on Sunday night, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.
The Times of India said the co-pilot was annoyed at his superior’s request to write down critical information for the flight, such as the number of passengers aboard.
“The co-pilot took offence at this and reportedly beat up the captain,” the newspaper said, quoting unnamed sources.
The airline denies any violence took place.
“There were only heated exchanges between the commander and co-pilot over some issue. We have already derostered the two pilots pending an enquiry,” an Air India spokesman told the Press Trust of India.
In January, reports stated Air India had launched an investigation after the captain of one of its B787 Dreamliners allegedly punched an engineer before locking himself in the cockpit.
On that occasion, the Times of India reported that a Chennai/Delhi flight was delayed by more than two hours after the pilot and an aircraft engineer “had a difference of opinion which ended up in a fight inside the cockpit”. The engineer was taken to hospital. See: Pilot grounded after punch-up in cockpit delays flight
Reports of fighting in the cockpit could prove the biggest embarrassment for Air India since last August, when one of the carrier’s A321 aircraft was grounded after several dozen rats were seen scurrying around the cabin. That flight originated in Kolkata (Calcutta). On landing in New Delhi, passengers departed in a hurry, the aircraft was taken out of service and exterminators were called in.
“The most common way for rats to get on board an aircraft is through catering vans,” the Times of India noted, an observation which may disturb potential customers.
Written by : Peter Needham