The pilot and co-pilot of India's national carrier Air India got involved in a brawl Sunday when the latter hurled abuses and beat the flight’s commander just before takeoff. The flight was traveling from Jaipur in the country’s north toward the capital city of Delhi.
"The commander told his co-pilot to take down critical take off figures for the flight. This involves writing critical facts like number of passengers on board, takeoff weight and fuel uptake on a small paper card (trim sheet) that is displayed in front of the pilots for the entire duration of the flight. The co-pilot took offense at this and reportedly beat up the captain," the Times of India (TOI), a local newspaper reported, citing an airline source.
The captain reportedly continued the flight to Delhi "in the larger interest of the airline." The paper reported that the flight would have been canceled had the incident been reported in Jaipur. The pilot reported the incident in Delhi after the plane landed.
A spokesman for the airline reportedly said the pair had “settled the issue.”
In the past, several other flight crew have reported about the behavior of the co-pilot, whose identity has not been revealed yet, according to TOI. Three years back, he had asked the commander of a flight to come out of the cockpit, remove the epaulet on the shirt, and later “fought with him,” a senior commander told TOI. In 2013, another commander had complained about the co-pilot's “rude and unbecoming” behavior inside the cockpit and “questioned his state of mind.”
The incident comes in the wake of the crash of Germanwings flight 9525, where co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and crashed the plane in the French Alps, according to media reports. Lubitz, who is suspected to have been suicidal, had reportedly accelerated the speed of the plane during its descent. Following the incident, which killed all 150 people on board, questions have been raised over the mental health of the crew while some countries implemented a two-person rule for the cockpit as a safety measure.
"AI [Air India] and DGCA [Directorate General of Civil Aviation] should examine this latest problem in the cockpit. If the complaints about the said co-pilot's behavior are found true, then in the interest of aviation safety the authorities must act," a pilot said, according to TOI.
According to a report by IBN Live, a local news network, Air India has denied any physical violence between the two crew members in question, while the DGCA, the country’s aviation regulatory authority, refused to begin an inquiry into the case because the aircraft was parked.