The DGCA has suspended the license of an Air India pilot for six months for “physical altercation” with a cabin crew member last month, according to sources. The pilot had allegedly asked the crew member to clean the tiffin after he had finished his meal before taking off from Bengaluru airport, provoking a heated argument between the two.
The incident took place on June 17 when the flight was to take off from the Bengaluru airport to the Kolkata airport. "Air India Pilot in Command Captain Milind has been suspended by the DGCA for a period of six months from the date of the incident," a source told PTI.
Captain Milind and cabin crew member Rajat Verman were involved in a "heated argument and thereafter physical altercation when the aircraft was on ground", they said.
The DGCA had issued a show cause notice to the pilot on June 28, asking him to explain in writing why action should not be taken against him, the sources said.
"The reply of the show cause notices was reviewed by the regulator and it was not found satisfactory. As a result, he has been suspended for six months," the source said.
"We have taken a serious note of this incident that happened. We will soon ask pilots to not bring their own food on flights," said a senior official of the national carrier had earlier told News18.
The Flight AI-772 was to leave from Bengaluru for Kolkata at 11.40 am, but it got delayed by nearly two hours as the captain and the cabin crew member who had gotten into a fight had to be removed and replaced on the plane.
"I have been told that the captain wanted the cabin crew member to clean the tiffin after he finished his meal. Probably, this is what led to a fight between them. An investigation has been started. Strict action will be taken," another official told the news channel.
Earlier, on March 27, Air India had instructed its pilots to not order special meals for themselves during flights as they are required to adhere to a "meal schedule laid down by the company".
The decision was taken as pilots were found to be ordering special meals for themselves such as burgers, soups, smoked salmon, guacamole and hummus with pita bread.