An argument over resting time between two cabin crew personnel on board an Air India flight from Delhi to Chicago on Friday lead to a safety violation that could have risked the lives of 250 passengers, apart from affecting in-flight services.
According to the reports, the Hindustan Times has copies, Mayank Sharma, a cabin crewmember had a verbal spat with his senior SK Marwah, a flight purser, because the latter refused to allow the mandatory five-hour rest to crew on board.
The aviation regulator’s rules states that crew operating ultra-long haul flights such as this one should compulsorily get five hour rest on board.
However, Marwah permitted the crew rest for only three hours and 30 minutes citing the airline’s flight operation manual. “This shows that either the airline does not follow rules made by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or that Marwah was taking us for a ride,” said a cabin crewmember requesting anonymity as it is against their company policy to talk to the media.
Adequate rest for crew operating such 15-hour long flights is crucial for passenger safety because flight fatigue can reduces alertness according to several scientific studies across the world.
“If the crew is tired how would they handle a mid-air emergency such as an sick passengers or a fire evacuation,” added the crewmember.
The squabble had an immediate impact on passenger service. “There was delay in food and liquor service because the crew was too busy arguing with each other,” said another crewmember witness to the incident.
Airline sources said that as per rules the flight’s commander should have intervened since the chief pilot has the authority to take final decision on board. However, in this case the pilot ignored his duty, added sources.
An Air India spokesperson refused to comment on the matter.