2017 is being hailed as the safest year for aviation, but 2018 seems to have started with a bang – or at least, a slap.
According to news items, on January 1, 2018, onboard a Jet Airways Mumbai bound flight from London, an argument in the cockpit which escalated to the point of the male pilot slapping the female pilot. There are two versions being reported as yet: that the captain was male and first officer was female; and that the captain was female and the first officer was male.
Either way, the female pilot left the cockpit in tears after being slapped. As she stood sobbing in the galley, the cabin crew tried to console her and send her back to the cockpit. Their efforts were in vain and she refused to go back. Eventually, the male pilot came out of the cockpit – LEAVING THE COCKPIT UNATTENDED – and convinced her to go back in. One may remember that after the Eurowings incident, it is now a safety practice to have at least two people in the cockpit at all times, one of whom must be a pilot.
The Daily Mail of the UK has added a juicy bit of information to the story: that the male and female pilots were in a relationship. If this is true, it smacks of bad Cockpit Resource Management (CRM). People who are in a relationship should not be allowed to fly together – unless of course the relationship has been concealed from the airline, which is grounds for disciplinary behaviour itself – or should be.
According to the New York Post, the pilots had a second fight, after which she came out of the cockpit again. However, this time the cabin crew was able to convince her to go back in and get the plane safely to Mumbai. Some sources have reported that the female pilot’s license has been suspended, but this has not been confirmed.
A Jet Airways spokesman said “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.”
At the time of the incident, flight 9w-119 was over Iran-Pakistan airspace. Onboard were 324 passengers and 14 crew members. The matter has been reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation India and the pilots involved have been grounded pending an investigation.