AI grounds two pilots, probe on

Mid-air scuffle: Air hostess files molestation complaint


The Delhi police have registered a case of molestation against the pilots on a complaint filed by an air hostess.

The airline on Sunday began an inquiry as it became known that the scuffle inside the cockpit of IC 884 (Sharjah-Lucknow-Delhi flight) carrying 106 passengers was over an air hostess who suffered bruises during the fight.

There were claims and counter-claims between the two pilots and the cabin crew and the inquiry was in progress, an AI spokesman said.

The inquiry covers the two pilots and the cabin crew.

The police have charged the pilots under IPC Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or use of criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 34 (common intention).

According to police, commander Ranbeer Arora and captain Aditya Chopra tried to molest the air hostess, and when she resisted, they pushed her out of the cockpit. “The air hostess sustained bruises and injuries on her hand," joint commissioner of police (operations) Satyendra Garg said, adding that her medical examination confirmed she had been assaulted.

The co-pilot and a flight purser, Amit Khanna, were allegedly injured in the exchange of blows that occurred around 4:30 am on Saturday when the aircraft was flying over the Pakistan territory. The incident is understood to have been sparked by verbal exchanges between the confronting sides during the pre-flight briefing session ahead of takeoff from Sharjah, the police said.

Captain Arora told reporters that the inquiry was on and the report awaited. He said the safety of the flight was never compromised. “Otherwise, we would have landed somewhere else. You speak to the management. Passengers were never at risk;  there was full safety.”

He was responding to a question whether the cockpit was unmanned as the pilots had come out of it and fought in the galley area.

Khanna denied he hit one of the pilots in the cockpit. “I never hit the pilot. This was a wrong statement. I must speak to the Air India management first. Since we are in great shock, I have not been able to talk to them. But there was no fight between us on the flight,” he asserted. The injured air hostess refused to say anything to the media: “I am not going to say anything now. Sorry.”

According to one version, the cabin crew-pilots tiff began on the ground in Sharjah and then turned into a full-blown fight once the flight took off soon after midnight.

The cabin crew alleged that the pilots harassed their 24-year-old female colleague while the pilots accused a male flight purser of misconduct that seriously compromised flight safety. The accusation of molestation was aimed at protecting the complainant's purser-friend from facing action, they said.

The cabin crew lobby said that after the initial tension in Sharjah, when the woman crew member went into the cockpit, one of the pilots held her hand and pushed her out of the cockpit.

“She hit the cockpit door with such force that she started bleeding. When Amit Khanna, the purser, saw her in that condition, he went to the cockpit to ask what was happening. At this point, the pilots got abusive and started a fight with him,” said a representative of the IA cabin crew.

Rat holds up Air India flight

A week after a rat forced the grounding of an Air India flight, 412 passengers aboard a Riyadh-bound plane of the national carrier were stranded on Sunday at Calicut airport as a rodent was spotted in the aircraft, reports PTI from Mumbai.

The engineers are inspecting the plane and a relief aircraft is being dispatched from Mumbai to ferry the stranded passengers to their destination, an AI spokesperson said here. The flight was scheduled to take off from Calicut airport at 2 pm.
All the passengers have been lodged in hotels. Engineers and technical staff of the airlines apprehended that the rat could damage the wiring.

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