Miffed with the investigation of four IndiGo Airlines pilots — seen posing and apparently drinking whisky from a bottle on-board a Bangkok-bound flight — by India’s aviation regulator, a Bangalore-based software developer has reported the issue to air safety watchdogs from other countries.
The complainant, Alok Narula, decided to draw international attention to the issue after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) response to his query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act showed little progress in the probe. The air safety department said the probe was ongoing and updates could take up to three months.
“It is a fairly black-and-white case. But it seems as though the DGCA is in no hurry,” said Narula, who has spoken to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US aviation regulator. “I will report this case to the EASA (European aviation regulator) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO), a UN-appointed aviation watchdog”.
BS Bhullar, director general of civil aviation, was not available for comment.
HT was first to report the incident on September 7 after the DGCA asked IndiGo explain the matter, acting on Narula’s complaint.
The low-cost airline had told HT that its internal probe had found no violations by the pilots.
“As per the internal investigation, these pilots were on leave and off duty when they clicked this picture as regular travellers on an international flight,” an IndiGo spokesperson said on Wednesday. The liquor bottle had been sealed at the time, he added.
The spokesperson said they informed the regulator when they found out about the picture, which was taken in October 2013 and shared on Facebook in January 2014. It had also taken the pilots off flying duties during the probe.
While drinking on-board international flights is allowed, passengers are not permitted to carry their own booze. Even bottles picked up from duty-free stores cannot be opened in-flight, state ICAO regulations, which cite potential dangers when a crew is unable to stop tipsy fliers from getting sloshed and unruly.