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Cabin crew want safety kit

mumbai Updated: Jan 05, 2010 00:26 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
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The 12-member crew held hostage by passengers for 15 hours aboard an Air India flight on Sunday, did not have a safety kit comprising plastic handcuffs and body belts to control the irate fliers.

While the Indian aviation rules do not permit airlines to carry a safety kit, international airlines have experimented with measures to control disruptive passengers for more than a decade now.

In 2006, the Etihad Airways crew used plastic handcuffs to control a violent flier on an Abu-Dhabi-London flight.

“We carry plastic handcuffs and body belts as safety gear,” said an official from a European carrier, requesting anonymity.

Some foreign carriers also carry duct tapes while some use sky marshals. Also, fliers misbehaving on foreign flights are fined heavily and often face prison term depending on the nature of the offence.

In India, last year, the Jet Airways crew was force to tie a mentally disturbed flier to his eat with ropes in a Mumbai-bound flight from London after started throwing objects at other passengers.

The All India Cabin Crew Association (AICC), the Air India cabin crew union has demanded that safety kits should be made mandatory in all flight during the meeting with the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) on Monday.

“We have been demanding this for four years now,” said Sanjay Lazer, AICC general secretary, adding that the issue

was raised even in a meeting held with the DGCA joint director, A.K. Chopra, on December 31, 2009.

A few years ago, a retired UK policeman, Roger Fuller, developed a device with straps called ‘The Hugger’ to tackle with unruly fliers.

Last year, a US-based company advertised equipment made using nylon mesh fabric and seatbelt material.

Currently, the DGCA is looking up the safety guidelines by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to punish unruly fliers.

“We are working on a policy to control the menace on the lines of ICAO,” said Nasim Zaidi, director general, DGCA. However, he did not mention any timeline for the same.