An Air India pilot allegedly let one of his female friends spend time in the plane’s cockpit during a flight from Dubai to Delhi on February 27. As you may have imagined, this is in direct violation of a litany of safety and procedural norms set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, according to the Hindustan Times.
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The news has come to light after a complaint by a member of the cabin crew to regulators. It alleges that the captain wanted to make sure the cockpit “appeared welcoming” for his buddy. He also asked that food and drink that is usually served to business class passengers be brought to her during the hour that she was in the cockpit, and this apparently interrupted the flow of service.
Hindustan Times reports that the complaint alleges issues began on AI flight 915, which according to Flight Aware is flown by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, even before the boarding process began. Cabin crew apparently had to wait for both pilots since they were late for their reporting time. They then got on the aircraft without meeting with them.
Eventually, the pilots boarded the plane at the same time as the passengers. The complaint then alleges that the captain asked the crew to let him know if there were any vacant seats in business class so his friend (who was flying economy) could sit up there. Unfortunately for all parties, there weren’t any seats available.
Now is where things really get hinky. The outlet reports that the complaint alleges the captain asked one of the crew members to let his friend in the cockpit. He also told her to get some pillows to make it more comfortable as she sat in the first observer seat.
“He said the cockpit should appear welcoming, warm and comfortable, as though he was preparing his living room for a lady friend. Also, to take her drinks and snacks order and serve her in the cockpit. I told him, ‘Captain, I am not comfortable serving alcohol in the cockpit.’ This seems to have upset him a lot and his entire attitude changed from that moment onwards. He became very snappy and rude and from there on started treating me like a servant working exclusively for him,” the crew member said in her complaint, reported by the Hindustan Times.
It won’t come as a surprise, but just about everything here is a huge no-no in the aviation industry. The outlet reported the DGCA’s Civil Aviation Regulation says, “An employee of the aircraft operator, who has the permission of the pilot-in-command (PIC) and whose duties are such that his/ her entry into the cockpit is necessary for safe operation of the aircraft can only be allowed in the cockpit provided they have done the mandatory BA tests.” It also reportedly says that only people who have been breathalyzed are allowed to enter the cockpit.
The crew member who made the complaint also alleged that while the female passenger was in the cockpit, she noticed that both pilots weren’t in their usual positions.
“I noticed that the first officer was sleeping reclined fully with a pillow and the pilot in charge was sitting across facing the passenger in the rear observer station to chat. The pilot in charge indicated that the first officer (co-pilot) was taking a controlled rest and sleep,” the complaint stated.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the complainant also said the captain was very angry with her and made “sexist remarks” during the return flight. She said that she believes the pilot’s behavior should require a psychiatric evaluation because he posed a risk to passenger safety.
A spokesperson for Air India told the outlet that it has formed a committee to investigate the situation.
“We have taken serious note of the reported incident and investigations are underway. The matter is reported to the DGCA and we are cooperating with the regulator’s investigation as well. We have zero tolerance in aspects related to the safety and well-being of our passengers and will take requisite action,” the airline said in a statement obtained by the Hindustan Times.