IndiGo pilot suspended for threatening senior citizen

IndiGo pilot faces 3 month suspension for threatening wheelchair-bound senior citizen in a Chennai-Bengaluru flight

Representative image. (Reuters photo)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday suspended the license of an IndiGo pilot for three months for allegedly intimidating and threatening a 75-year-old woman on a Chennai-Bengaluru flight last month.

The DGCA, which issued a show-cause notice to the pilot-in-command, found that his attitude towards the wheelchair-bound senior citizen was “intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion.”

“The pilot-in-command (PIC) has misused his authority in intimidating and threatening the wheelchair-bound passenger and her attendant by saying that they will be handed over to the CISF and a police case will be registered against them for unruly behaviour,” a DGCA official said quoting the findings of the investigation it had conducted into the incident of January 13.

During the investigation, it was found that the PIC had “insisted” on an apology letter from the passengers – the senior citizen and her daughter – which further delayed the matter, detaining them for approximately one hour and 15 minutes after the deboarding had begun at the Bengaluru airport.

“He exhibited lack of ability in managing threat and error situation especially when he was to operate another commercial flight after a short duration,” a DGCA official noted adding that the licence of the PIC had been suspended for three months.

In a series of tweets and a detailed Facebook post on January 14, the passenger, Supriya Unni Nair, a former journalist, narrated her ordeal, claiming that the pilot had also misbehaved with her and her mother, a diabetic.

The airline had “off-rostered” the PIC soon after the complaint, which was tagged to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

The trouble began soon after the IndiGo flight 6E-806 from Chennai landed at the Bengaluru airport. “Our flight was late and when we landed at 9.15 pm, I tried calling the assistance bell. When the crew didn’t respond, I walked up for help,” Nair narrated in her post on social media.

The crew had told her that they had no access to a wheelchair. “It was clearly printed on the ticket. When I pointed this out to her, the captain came barging out and yells at me for pressing the assistance button and annoying him and his crew,” the passenger had recalled her harrowing experience.

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