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Pilots suspended after brawl breaks out in cockpit

July 30, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The soothing voice of your pilot, chatting about weather or arrival time, is comforting after takeoff – but not the shouting and smashing sounds of a punch-up that has broken out on the flight deck at 37,000 feet.

A simmering argument between two Iraqi Airways pilots is reported to have escalated into a bitter quarrel mid-flight and then turned into a physical fight, hours after departing from an Iranian airport last week.

The Baghdad-bound flight was carrying 157 passengers from Mashhad Airport in northeast Iran, which serves a city bordering Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

Security guards are said to have entered the flight deck and broken up the fight. Airlive.net cited passenger reports that the fight had damaged the cockpit.

The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation (MoT) said later on its website it had begun an investigation into the pilot and co-pilot’s actions and had “ordered immediately to restrict them from flying.”

“They will have no chance of escaping harsh penalties, and will face the worst and most severe punishments, the least of which is the denial of flight for life,” the MoT said.

Russian news sources said the co-pilot had ordered a flight attendant to bring him a meal on a tray but the pilot forbade it because the co-pilot had not asked permission.

Conversation then became heated, according to a statement by the co-pilot to Iraqi Airways management and seen by news agency AFP.

Things quickly intensified after the pilot ate his own meal and then proceeded to “hit and insult” the co-pilot. A fight broke out and allegedly continued after landing.

“I had to defend myself,” the co-pilot protested.

The pilot’s account of the brawl has not been released, website Rudaw reported.

Iraqi Airways has been banned from European Union airspace since 2015 following a series of alleged safety lapses and inability to provide documentation to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

AirlineRatings.com, which rates airlines on both safety and product criteria, gives Iraqi Airways 2 out of 7 for safety and 0 out of 7 for product.

Written by Peter Needham

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