The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Monday suspended an IndiGo captain for three months for “intimidating and threatening” a wheelchair-bound senior citizen on a Chennai-Bengaluru flight last month, sources said.
According to a senior government official, the DGCA had conducted an investigation into the issue, during which it was found that the pilot-in-command “insisted” on an apology letter from the senior citizen and her daughter — who was also traveling on the flight — further delaying the matter and effectively detained them for around 75 minutes after disembarkation of the aircraft began at Bengaluru.
“It was established that the pilot-in-command’s attitude towards the wheelchair-bound senior citizen passenger was intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion. The DGCA has suspended his license for a period of three months,” the official said.
The daughter, who had asked for a wheelchair for her 75-year-old mother following the January 13 flight, had narrated the incident in a series of tweets. She had claimed that the cabin crew said they did not have access to wheelchair assistance. The tweets also describe the flight’s pilot-in-command then stepping in and threatening the two passengers with jail.
After the narration went viral on the microblogging website, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on Twitter: “I requested my office to contact IndiGo as soon as I saw the tweet by Ms Supriya Unni Nair about the pilot’s behaviour with her & her 75 year old mother in need of wheelchair assistance… The airline has informed Ministry of Civil Aviation that the pilot has been off-rostered pending full enquiry”.
The DGCA investigation pointed out that the pilot-in-command misused his authority in intimidating and threatening the wheelchair-bound passenger by saying that they will be handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and a police case will be registered against her for unruly behaviour, the official said. “The pilot further directed IndiGo’s security staff to detain both the lady passengers from deboarding,” the official added.
The aviation regulator issued a show-cause notice to the pilot-in-command, and after examining his response, it established that his actions led to “avoidable detention of the wheelchair-bound passenger”. “He exhibited lack of ability in managing threat and error situation, especially when he was to operate another commercial flight after a short duration,” the official further said.
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