Air India suspends pilot, purser for mid-air scuffle

National carrier Air India on Tuesday suspended a pilot and a flight purser who were involved in a midair scuffle.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2009, 18:05 PM IST

New Delhi: National carrier Air India on Tuesday suspended a pilot and a flight purser who were involved in a midair scuffle Saturday aboard an international flight from Sharjah to Delhi, and put off duty the co-pilot and airhostess concerned.

"Yes, we have suspended the pilot and the flight purser and derostered the co-pilot and the air hostess concerned," a spokesperson of the airline said to a news agency Tuesday, adding an internal inquiry into the incident was still on.
The incident allegedly took place aboard the IC-884 flight that was also reportedly left unmanned during the mid-air scuffle that broke out between the pilots and cabin crew Saturday. But Air India Monday denied the flight remained unmanned during the scuffle.

The four were identified as Ranbir Arora, commander, Aditya Chopra, co-pilot, Amit Khanna, flight purser and airhostess Komal Singh.

The state-run airline grounded the pilots and the cabin crew, who were involved in the incident, after the Delhi Police registered a case of molestation against the pilots on a complaint by the airhostess.

The president of the Indian Commercial Pilot`s Association (ICPA) Shailendra Singh spoke in favour of the pilots and said they were not at fault, and no person can barge into the cockpit and pick up a fight with the pilots.

"I have spoken to the pilot and the co-pilot. They had maintained there cool. There is a certain hierarchy in the cockpit that has to be followed," Singh told reporters here soon after the airline announced its action against the crew members.

The National Commission for Women has also formed a panel to probe the charges of assault levelled by the Air India air hostess against the two pilots after she filed a formal complaint Monday.

"She came here and sat with me for six hours. She has filed a complaint with me. We have written to Air India to inquire into the matter and also informed them about the Supreme Court guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace," commission chairperson Girija Vyas said to a news agency.

The incident is understood to have originated in some verbal exchanges between the two sides during the pre-flight briefing session ahead of takeoff from Sharjah, the police said.

The Airbus A-320 from Sharjah was carrying 106 passengers and seven crew and had reached Lucknow when the matter was reported.

The case was registered here under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or use of criminal force against a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.