Pilot couple left the cockpit unmanned after they fought, carrying 324 passengers
An Indian airline has fired a pilot couple who violently clashed and briefly left the cockpit unattended during a flight from London to Mumbai.
Jet Airways took the step after investigating allegations a male pilot slapped his female co-pilot during a heated argument while the plane was mid-air, carrying 324 passengers.
The fight reportedly led to the female pilot leaving the cockpit in tears before she was persuaded to go back in by cabin crew.
At one point the male pilot also left the cockpit, leaving the controls briefly unattended, according to local media reports.
‘Consequent to the review of the events… Jet Airways has terminated services of both the cockpit crew with immediate effect,’
Jet said in a statement.
The two pilots were grounded last week over the altercation, which Jet had described as a ‘misunderstanding’ that was ‘quickly resolved amicably’.
The flight departed London around 1000 GMT on Monday and arrived in India’s financial capital on schedule around nine hours later at midnight local time.
During the incident, the female co-pilot was persuaded to go back into the cockpit to resume her duties, but again left the flight deck in a distressed state soon afterwards.
Frightened cabin crew pleaded with her to go back, and the nine-hour flight – complete with 324 passengers and 14 crew – eventually reached its destination without further incident.
The confrontation reportedly took place soon after the plane took off.
‘The captain slapped the co-pilot and she left the cockpit in tears. She stood in the galley sobbing,’
a witness said.
‘The cabin crew tried to comfort her and send her back to the cockpit.
‘Meanwhile, the captain kept buzzing (calling from the telecom in the cockpit) to the crew, asking them to send the second pilot back.’
But soon afterwards they again had a fight and the co-pilot for the second time left her seat at the controls.
It said the incident has been reported to Director General of Civil Aviation and the concerned crew will not work until the results of an investigation are known.