What Jet Airways pilot slapping female colleague incident reveals

It sees the entire incident as nothing more than a misunderstanding.

 |  4-minute read |   05-01-2018
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On a day a standing committee in Rajya Sabha reprimanded airline company IndiGo saying "it needs to look inwards to see what the reason is behind its employee's rude, discourteous and indifferent behaviour towards customers", another airline company in India found itself embroiled in a case of assault.

This time an employee of Jet Airways was assaulted, not a customer. According to reports, a pilot from the airline allegedly slapped a woman colleague on a London-Mumbai flight, among other violations.

On January 1, 2018, Jet Airways grounded two of its senior pilots following a mid-air brawl onboard flight 9W 119. The male pilot allegedly slapped a woman colleague, who came out of the cockpit and began sobbing. The cabin crew then persuaded her to return to the cockpit, to resume her duty. After some time, she emerged from the cockpit once again, following which the perturbed cabin crew requested her, yet again, to return to the cockpit and complete the flight.

What happened inside the cockpit

According to a Business Today report, the first time around, the male pilot too left the cockpit to persuade his peer to return. Leaving the cockpit unmanned is a gross violation of air safety rules. They had another fight after which she left the cockpit for the second time. 

Reports add that a probe has been ordered into the incident by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju after it was raised by BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who alleged that the incident had put the lives of 324 passengers (including two infants and 14 crew members) at risk and sought action against the airlines and the two pilots.

He said that both pilots had come out of the cockpit, which was a violation of rules.

jet_010518032440.jpgPhoto: Wikimedia Commons

According to a Jet Airways spokesperson, however, the entire incident was the result of nothing more than a misunderstanding.

"A misunderstanding occurred between the cockpit crew of Jet Airways flight 9W 119, London-Mumbai of January 01, 2018. However, the same was quickly resolved amicably and the flight with 324 guests continued its journey to Mumbai, landing safely. The airline has reported the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the concerned crew have been de-rostered pending an internal investigation that has since been initiated. At Jet Airways, safety of guests, crew and assets is of paramount importance and the airline has zero tolerance for any action of its employees that compromises safety."

The male pilot’s licence has been suspended by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) not for the assault itself, but for violating safety norms and leaving the cockpit unattended.

DGCA chief BS Bhullar told The Times of India that an investigation has been ordered. But is that enough? 

It is patently irresponsible for the airline as well as the DGCA to take only the gross violation of airline codes into account, and not the aggressive behaviour of the male pilot.

Irrespective of any compromise brokered between the pilots, assaulting coworkers in itself should be treated as a primary offence.

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