Air India deems the license suspension of the Commander excessive and will be assisting him with an appeal. Air India also acknowledges the decision of the DGCA to impose fines on the Company, a ground staff and to suspend the Commander’s license. The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty, said the airlines.
A joint forum of six unions on Tuesday appealed to aviation regulator DGCA to revoke the suspension of the license of the pilot-in-command of the Air India flight from New York to Delhi on November 26, last year, in which a passenger Shankar Mishra urinated on a female co passenger onboard.
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Directorate General of Civil Aviation suspended the license of the pilot for three months, imposed a penalty of Rs 30 lakh on Air India and Rs 3 lakh on the director of the airline’s in-flight services related to the urination incident.
In the letter to the regulator, the forum said that while there is a groundswell of ”public pressure” for action, given the serious nature of the allegations of the complainant, there is a need to evaluate the same with the nature of the Pilot-in-Command’s duties and responsibilities, among others and to evaluate the facts that came up before the pilots and crew on the said flight. Citing various aspects, the forum has appealed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ”withdraw the harsh punishment and suspension of the PIC”. it said.
The forum represents six unions — Indian Pilots Guild, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Air Corporation Employees Union, Air India Employees Union, All India Cabin Crew Association and Airline Pilots Association of India.
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The letter comes on the day Tata Sons owned Air India closed its internal investigation into the actions by its crew operating and administrative staff of last year's 26th November AI102 flight. The crew were approached by the complainant seeking assistance after allegedly being urinated on by a fellow passenger Shankar Mishra.
Air India said, "In the absence of any witnesses, the crew took the complainant’s allegation at face value and assisted her by providing fresh clothes, clean her belongings and relocating her to another business class seat of the same type as her original one."
"The alleged perpetrator was confronted with the allegation and professed ignorance of the allegation. He had not been served excessive alcohol by the crew and did not appear intoxicated to the crew."
Air India further said, "The Commander was kept regularly informed by cabin crew. As per judgement of the crew, the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time."
In light of financial detriment already incurred by the crew during their period of de-rostering, Air India deems the license suspension of the Commander excessive and will be assisting him with an appeal, the airlines said.
It further said that Air India acknowledges that the matter should have been reported as a prima facie case and the matter should have been classified and reported as such, without prejudice to any subsequent investigation into the facts. Further the airline said that upon receipt of the voyage report, ground staff did not challenge the crew’s assessment & therefore it did not report the matter as an unruly incident.
The airlines also acknowledged the decision of the DGCA to impose fines on the Company, a ground staff and to suspend the Commander’s license. The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty.
"Air India acknowledges the decision of the DGCA to impose fines on the Company, a ground staff and to suspend the Commander’s license. As stated above, Air India accepts that, notwithstanding the mitigating circumstances, based on the letter of the CAR it did not correctly classify the incident and therefore did not report it as required,” Air India said.
“The crew and ground staff have been issued warning letters to henceforth adhere strictly to CAR definition of “unruly” when reporting incidents onboard, so that later investigation can assess the facts. The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty,” it said.
DGCA previously imposed a financial penalty of rupees thirty lakh on Air India. Suspended license of Pilot-In-Command for 3 months, financial Penalty of rupees three lakh on Director-in-flight services of the airline.
Also Read: Air India pee case: Cabin crew body says internal committee report flawed, wants grounded staff back on duty
(Edited by : Anushka Sharma)
First Published: Jan 24, 2023 6:25 PM IST
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