DGCA fines Air India 30 lakh rupees for pilot allowing girlfriend into cockpit

Aviation regulator DGCA on Friday fined Air India 30 lakh rupees for failing to effectively resolve the “safety-related issue” surrounding the incident in which a friend’s pilot killed her friend during a flight from Delhi to Dubai on February 27 Access to the cockpit allowed.

This is the third time in less than four months that the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) has fined Air India for misconduct.

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Since the incident was reported, officials have claimed it happened on board a flight from Dubai to Delhi due to confusion over the flight number. In fact, the incident happened on a flight from Delhi to Dubai.

In imposing the fine, the regulator said in a statement that Air India had not taken immediate corrective action, but the airline denied the allegation.

In connection with the Delhi-Dubai flight incident, the regulator also suspended the license of the pilot who operated the flight for three months and the co-pilot was cautioned for not taking vigorous action to prevent the violation.

In addition, the airline was ordered to take administrative action against the “Staff On Duty (SOD)/Passenger, including the removal of any managerial role in the organization for a period of time.”

In a statement, the DGCA said that during Air India flight AI-915 from Delhi to Dubai on February 27, the pilot-in-command allowed an airline traveling as a passenger to access the cockpit during a cruise, in violation of represent the regulations.

“The Air India CEO received a complaint regarding this from a member of the flight crew. However, the organization did not take immediate corrective action even though it was a safety-related breach.”

“Expecting a delayed response, the complainant contacted the DGCA,” the statement said.

Against this backdrop, the regulator has fined Air India Rs 30 lakh rupees for “failing to promptly and effectively address the safety-related issue”.

While the airline acknowledged and accepted Air India’s DGCA decision, it “rejected the allegation that Air India took no action in response to the complaint”.

“There were a number of allegations that needed to be dealt with under due process and confidentiality and were addressed immediately after the complaint was lodged,” Air India said in a statement.

Among other actions related to the Delhi-Dubai air accident, the DGCA has suspended the pilot-in-command’s license for a period of three months for misusing his powers under the Aircraft Rules 1937 and admitting a violation of the applicable DGCA regulations.

After the incident became known, the DGCA ordered Air India to release the entire crew of the Delhi-Dubai flight until the investigation was completed.

On April 21, the DGCA had issued notices of the incident to Air India CEO Campbell Wilson and Head of Safety and Quality Functions Henry Donohoe for failing to report the incident to the regulator in a timely manner.

Sources previously said the incident happened on February 27 and was reported in a confidential email to Campbell and Donohoe on March 3.

This is the third time since January 20 that the DGCA has penalized Air India in relation to omissions related to specific incidents.

On January 24, the regulator fined Air India 10 lakh rupees for failing to report two incidents of unruly passenger behavior on board a Paris-Delhi flight on December 6, 2022.

On that flight, an intoxicated passenger was caught smoking in the lavatory and disobeying crew instructions, and another passenger allegedly relieved himself on the vacant seat and on the blanket of a fellow passenger as she went to the lavatory. These incidents were not immediately reported to the regulator.

Earlier on January 20, the DGCA fined Air India 30 lakh rupees and revoked the pilot-in-command’s license for the New York to Delhi flight in which a person allegedly urinated on a female fellow passenger.

In the November 26, 2022 incident, the regulator had also fined Air India’s director of inflight services 3 lakh rupees for failing to perform her duties.

Sybil Alvarez

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