Jet Airways has ultimately decided to terminate the employment of two employees who got into a heated in-flight fight on New Year's Day, during which the male co-pilot allegedly slapped his female commander and later left the cockpit completely unattended.
"Consequent to the review of the events … Jet Airways has terminated services of both the cockpit crew with immediate effect," said the airline in a statement obtained by the AFP.
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Jet Airways had initially grouned the two pilots following an incident during a 9-hour trip from London to Mumbai on Jan 1. During the altercation, which occurred shortly after takeoff, the male co-pilot allegedly slapped the aircraft’s female commander, prompting her to leave the cockpit of the Boeing 777 in tears, according to sources for The Times of India.
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“She stood in the galley sobbing,” said a source. “The cabin crew tried to comfort her and send her back to the cockpit, but in vain.”
The male co-pilot, still in the cockpit, then called out over the intercom for the commander to come back to the controls. When she wouldn’t, the co-pilot violated aviation safety rules and exited the cockpit himself — effectively leaving no one at the controls — to persuade her to return, per the Associated Press.
The woman reportedly returned to the cockpit with the co-pilot, only to exit again a little while later. This time, the plane’s crew was “quite afraid” of what was happening between the two senior commanders, as were the passengers in the cabin, sources say.
The Press Trust of India confirmed that India's civil aviation department suspended the male pilot's license for violating safety regulations by leaving the cockpit. (Associated Press)
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The flight crew eventually managed to coax the woman back into the captain’s seat, and the plane landed safely in London just after midnight on Jan. 2.
The airline later confirmed that both pilots were reported to India’s Directorate of General Civil Aviation over the “misunderstanding” on the flight, but claimed that the altercation was “resolved amicably.”
“At Jet Airways, safety of guests, crew and assets is of paramount importance and the airline has zero tolerance for any action of its employees that compromises safety,” the airline said in an earlier statement to The Times of India.
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The Directorate of General Civil Aviation, or the DGCA, had confirmed the suspension of the male co-pilot’s license at the time. The DGCA and the airline subsequently investigated the incident, which the DGCA had called a “serious issue.”