An Air India flight from Chennai to Colombo on November 24 was delayed by more than an hour because the captain refused to take off his earrings.
According to the AI operational manual, approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, male pilots are not permitted to wear earrings while operating flights. Most airlines across the world have similar norms for pilots.
Flight AI 273 was to depart from Chennai on November 24 at 2.15pm. Sources said Captain Bhagath Singh refused to take off his earrings despite being asked to do so by the senior captain, who was on board to check Singh's proficiency in standard operating procedures. Such checks are routine in all airlines.
The flight left after a delay of more than an hour following the intervention of top officials who permitted Singh to fly with his earrings on.
The AI manual says: "Male crew are not permitted to have long hair, long sideburns, intimidating moustache, very long unkempt beards and to affect a ponytail of hair or wear earrings and nose ring in uniform."
When contacted by HT, Singh refused to comment. AI, too, did not offer comments. Singh continues to defy AI's rules on uniforms. He operated a flight on Thursday too.
"It is unfortunate that the AI management does not enforce discipline," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, a former pilot and aviation expert.