The co-pilot of a Jaipur-Delhi Air India flight allegedly assaulted the captain before take-off, media reports said on Monday, highlighting the stress on “overworked” pilots of the government-owned carrier.
Sunday’s incident came days after an association representing Air India pilots wrote to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) saying co-pilots were being “forced to work overtime” without adequate remuneration.
The alleged fracas also came barely weeks after the co-pilot of a German airline “deliberately” crashed an aircraft into the French Alps, killing on 150 people onboard. The co-pilot was said to be mentally unstable with a history of suicidal tendencies.
The Times of India reported quoting unnamed sources that the co-pilot – who was not identified – took umbrage after the captain asked him to “take down critical take off figures for the flight”.
The angry co-pilot allegedly assaulted the pilot physically.
The paper also said the co-pilot was involved in similar face-offs with flight captains on a couple of occasions earlier.
An Air India spokesperson said both the pilots -- commander and the co-pilot -- were derostered.
"There were only heated exchanges between the commander and co-pilot over some issue. We have already derostered the
two pilots pending an inquiry," the spokesperson said.
NDTV reported that recently the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association had written to the DGCA saying that co-pilots were being overworked.
“Putting these highly-stressed and financially over-burdened co-pilots in the same cockpit... is a perfect recipe for disaster,” NDTV quoted the association as saying.
The letter also said, “At times of equipment malfunction, turbulence or emergency, a pilot must remain calm... How can an Air India pilot perform his duties in such a manner when he is already highly stressed?”
NDTV said earlier too the ICPA had raised safety concerns over the Air India’s 26-year-old A-320 fleet.
The Times of India said the DGCA has started discussions with the Directorate of Medical Services for regular check-ups of pilots to evaluate their psychological health.