AI suspends pilot for letting air hostess fly plane, while he takes a nap

Air India is in the news once again for all the wrong reasons. On 12 April, two Air India pilots flying from Bangkok to India put the lives of 166 passengers at risk when they chose to take a power nap and leave the aircraft in the hands of two stewardesses.


An Air India Dreamliner flight takes off.

According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, thirty minutes after take off, the two pilots - First Officer Ravindra Nath and Captain BK Soni - decided to snooze in business class after putting the aircraft in auto-pilot mode. And who did they pick to leave in charge? Two stewardesses Kanika Kala and J Bhatt.

Minutes after taking over the controls, one of the stewardesses  while fiddling with the controls, accidentally switched off the auto-pilot forcing the two pilots to rush back to the cockpit.

Meanwhile, Air India has suspended the co-pilot and two cabin crew for 'over stay' in the cockpit on its Delhi-bound flight from Bangkok but denied reports that pilots had allowed the stewardesses to operate the aircraft, endangering the lives of passengers.

"Based on a report that two cabin crew members were in the cockpit for a prolonged period on the said flight, the two cabin crew were called for an inquiry. As the enquiry confirmed the over stay of the cabin crew in the cockpit, administrative action was taken against them and the pilot. They have been suspended pending the final enquiry of the incident," the national carrier said in a statement in Mumbai.

Air India also denied that one of the cabin crew "accidentally switched off the auto-pilot mode", as alleged in the report, endangering the safety of 166 passengers onboard.

"It is categorically stated that at no point of time the cockpit was left unattended by the cockpit crew. During the incident, due to distraction the co-pilot had touched the auto pilot disconnect button momentarily. But the same was connected back," the statement said.

At Air India, flight safety is paramount, the statement said, adding," we take all steps to ensure that safety is not compromised under any circumstances."

But this is just one among many recent controversies the employees of the airline have been involved in.

In March this year, an Air India pilot was suspended after he got into a mid-air fight with an air-hostess for allowing an unauthorised passenger to travel in the cockpit with him.

Last year, an Air India pilot rapped about the airline in a video that went viral on the web. You can watch the video here.

With PTI inputs

Updated Date: May 04, 2013 10:50 AM

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