DGCA suspends IndiGo pilot for 3 months for ‘intimidating’ passengers
Aviation regulator DGCA, which has suspended him for three months, said that the pilot’s behavior was intimidating.Updated: Feb 11, 2020 03:26 IST
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has suspended an IndiGo pilot who not only refused to provide a pre-booked wheelchair to a 75-year-old passenger on a Chennai-Bengaluru flight on January 13 but also threatened to detain the senior citizen and her daughter at the airport.
Aviation regulator DGCA, which has suspended him for three months, said that the pilot’s behavior was intimidating. The pilot, Captain Jayakrishnan Kadappa, had been taken off duty after the incident pending further inquiry.
The senior citizen, Vijayalakshmi Nair, had been travelling with her daughter Supriya Unni Nair, 50 on flight 6E 806. The next morning the daughter posted a series of tweets recounting her experience, accusing the crew and captain of abusive behaviour. She said that her mother, a diabetes patient, had pre-booked a wheelchair but received no assistance after the flight landed at Bengaluru. When she was explaining to the crew that the ticket mentioned the booking of the wheel chair, the captain came out of the cockpit and accused her of annoying him and his crew.
The pilot tried to stop the ground staff from taking the senior citizen out of the aircraft and threatened to detain them at the airport.
After the incident, the DGCA issued show cause notice to the pilot. The regulator said that Kadappa, who was the Pilot-in-Command (PIC), had misused his authority by intimidating the passengers. The pilot had disregarded the fact that the senior citizen needed a wheelchair and he also insisted on an apology letter from the passengers which further delayed the matter and the passengers were detained for more than one hour after the other passengers had got off the aircraft.
In its report about the investigation, the regulator stated, ‘After examining the reply of the PIC to the letter it was established that the PIC attitude towards the wheelchair bound senior citizen passenger was intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion. His actions led to avoidable detention of the wheelchair bound passenger. His actions led to avoidable detention of the wheelchair bound passenger. He exhibited lack of ability in managing the threat and error situation especially when he was to operate another commercial flight after a short duration.’
Kadappa declined to comment on the matter. He will be free to join duties on the completion of three months from the date of the incident.
Nair said, “My mother and I deeply appreciate DGCA’s action.”
IndiGo did not comment on the matter.
Experts from the aviation industry said that it was a rare instance where a pilot has been suspended for threating a passenger. Jitendra Bhargava, former executive director of Air India said, “This is one of the rare instances where the regulator has taken action against a pilot for his misconduct. It’s also not very often that a pilot interacts (with a passenger) which clearly shows that pilot’s error. Also, as discipline should be maintained by the airline, the airline should have taken strict action against him, instead of DGCA.”
Mohan Ranganathan, former instructor pilot of Boeing B737 and aviation safety consultant said, “This is a good step by the DGCA as it will give a clear message to others. During suspension, the pilot does not report to work and also witnesses pay cuts based on individual airline policies.”