Air India on Tuesday suspended a senior pilot and a flight purser involved in the scuffle onboard an Air India flight from Sharjah on Saturday.
The decision comes after a preliminary report of the internal inquiry based on airhostess Komal Singhs complaint of assault and molestation against the pilot of the Air India flight IC-884.
Singh had filed at complaint at IGI police station on Saturday.
An airline spokesperson said Commander Ranbir Arora and Flight Purser Amit Khanna have been suspended. Co-pilot Aditya Chopra would continue to remain de-rostered till the inquiry ends.
The airline management has also decided to set up a committee to probe the molestation charge,while keeping airhostess Singh grounded till the probe gets over. Chargesheet will also be issued against Arora and Khanna.
The three-member Air India probe panel found that Arora and Khanna had played a greater role in the incident. While Khannas attitude led to the altercation,which later grew into a scuffle,the behaviour of Commander Arora,who pushed the airhostess out of the cockpit,was objectionable,the panel concluded.
The findings of the departmental inquiry set up now will determine the extent of involvement and culpability of Arora and Khanna. The quantum of punishment to be awarded to them will be decided accordingly.
Expressing faith in the management,the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) on Tuesday said the suspension was the outcome of the preliminary inquiry and they would decide on appealing only after the final report.
Bracket flying questioned
Other crew members on board the same flight have alleged it is Air Indias policy of allowing bracket flying that led to the heated situation.
An airhostess on board the same flight told Newsline on conditions of anonymity: The airhostess and flight purser were bracket flying as a couple. The airline allows couples (crew members) to fly together on long-haul flights. While it was a case of insubordination so far as flight purser Khanna was concerned,Komal (the airhostess) jumped into the situation to pacify the two sides.
It was a heated argument between Arora and Khanna,and Arora wanted the two out of the cockpit. He did use force and foul language; Komal got hurt,and so did the co-pilot (Chopra), she said.
Air India spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava said bracket flying is an arrangement by which the crew members friends and couples can fly together on long flights.
A senior official said AI chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav is taking personal notice of the issue and trying to get the system of bracket flying abolished.
Besides the departmental inquiry already initiated by Air India,the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,National Commission for Women and the Delhi Police are also doing separate inquiries into the incident. Following airhostess Singhs complaint,the police had registered a case against the two 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).
Police Commissioner Y S Dadwal on Tuesday said the department has also sought from Air India a list of passengers who travelled on the front row of the aircraft. He said these passengers could act as crucial eyewitnesses and throw light on the incident.
Meanwhile,the Air India management has washed its hands off any sexual misconduct on part of the pilot,it is learnt. The issue is being probed by the NCW. According to sources close to the investigation,the probe panel looking into the episode has found that purser Khanna entered the cockpit first,after which the argument between him and the two pilots began.
who gets what
* Pilot Ranbir Arora and flight purser Amit Khanna suspended
* Co-pilot Aditya Chopra would continue to remain de-rostered till inquiry ends
* Airhostess Komal Singh to be grounded till probe is over
* Chargesheet to be issued against Arora and Khanna
* AI to set up a committee to probe molestation charge pressed by Singh against the pilot