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Pilots' body defends colleague suspended for mid-air fight

October 07, 2009 00:06 IST

The Air India Pilots' Association came out in support of their pilot colleague, who was suspended for alleged involvement in a mid-air scuffle, saying he had acted in a "cool" manner and sought to fault the air hostess and purser for the development.

President of Indian Commercial Pilots' Association Captain Shailendra Singh said the organisation reserves the right to appeal against the management's decision to suspend Captain Ranbir Arora and would decide on it after the probe being carried out by Delhi Police, Air India and the Directorate of General Civil Aviation is completed. "I appreciate that despite whatever had happened, the pilots maintained their cool and operated the flight from Sharjah to Lucknow to Delhi," Singh told reporters about the October 3, incident involving the Air India pilot, co-pilot Aditya Chopra, flight purser Amit Khanna and air hostess Komal Singh.

Defending Arora who pushed Komal out of the cockpit during the scuffle in which she sustained injuries, Singh said "what would a commander do if someone was not obeying his command to leave the cockpit. It was done keeping in mind the safety of the flight and the passengers." Contending that he actually didn't know what had happened, he said "but I have seen bruises on the face of the co-pilot (Aditya Chopra). He (Amit Khanna) was physically sent out of the cockpit and since Komal was standing behind him she also got hurt."

Suggesting that cabin crew members should have maintained their cool, the ICPA president said "even if some senior says anything to the junior, they (juniors) should have maintained the discipline." He said the "cabin crew is there not just to serve tea and coffee. They are highly responsibile for the safety of the aircraft too." On Arora's suspension, Singh said "we have full faith in the management. Whatever they have decided is as per the preliminary inquiry". He, however, said the Association reserves the right of appeal after the final outcome.

Noting that separate inquiries were being conducted by the airline, the police and the DGCA, Singh said "let these be completed, then only we will decide whether to appeal or what should be done." Asserting that whoever was found guilty should be punished, Singh said "if there was some problem, there is a proper place to resolve it. The aircraft certainly is not the right place to sort out your issues. The issues should have been settled amicably." He said the whole issue has "made a mockery of aviation and created an element of distrust among us."

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