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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

AI pilot, 2 crew grounded after cockpit drama

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 04, 2013
First Published: 01:14 IST(4/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:17 IST(4/5/2013)

A cockpit drama up in the air during which the auto pilot was disconnected on an international Air India flight has led to the grounding of a pilot and two flight attendants.

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Aviation regulator has launched a probe into the April 12 incident that took place on board AI's Bangkok-Delhi flight, with 166 passengers on board.

As per reports, pilots left two flight attendants in-charge of the cockpit as they napped in the business class for 40 minutes.

Air India, however, has denied that the pilots left the cockpit.

The co-pilot was reportedly the first to leave — for a bathroom break. As per procedure, he asked a flight attendant to be in the cockpit.

Minutes later, the captain called another stewardess. After giving her a “crash course” in flying the Airbus 321, he, too, left, leaving the two stewardesses in-charge of the cockpit. The pilots were forced to rush back after one of the flight attendants accidentally switched off the auto-pilot, reports claimed.

Sources at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, however, said the flight attendants were called in by the pilots and the four were locked in the cockpit for a “very long time”.  “What happened inside is best left to your imagination. We’re conducting an inquiry,” a source said.

A probe confirmed “overstay” after which the co-pilot and the two crew were suspended, pending final inquiry, AI said. “During the incident, due to distraction the co-pilot had touched the auto pilot disconnect button momentarily. But the same was connected back,” it said.


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