SpiceJet has sacked one of its commanders for allegedly asking an air hostess to be with him in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 on both legs of an international flight and making her sit on his seat. He also sent his co-pilot out of the cockpit, leaving the two alone in the cockpit for a long time.
This serious safety breach of making an unauthorized person sit in the pilot’s seat and alleged sexual harassment at workplace took place on SpiceJet’s Kolkata-Bangkok flight on February 28. The pilot is alleged to have repeated his actions on the return journey the same night.
The case may not have come to light had the pilot not used “inappropriate language” with the chief air hostess of the flight. She complained to the airline which, apart from conducting its own inquiry, informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of the breach.
The decision to sack the pilot was reportedly taken by SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh, showing how seriously this alleged offence is being viewed.
DGCA may suspend pilot’s licence
In fact there may be more trouble in store for the pilot. The DGCA is currently headed by M Sathiyavathy, a “no-nonsense” person, who is personally looking into this case. “We have taken some action (in this case),” Sathiyavathy told TOI. She may take further action like suspending the pilot’s licence — which means he may not be able to fly as a pilot again with any other airline too — if the allegations against him are proved beyond doubt.
SpiceJet GM corporate communication Ajay Jasra said: “The inquiry process (in this case) is on and the statement of all the concerned parties has been recorded. Subsequently, the alleged personnel had been sacked.”
Sources said that the pilot called the air hostess inside the cockpit while flying to Bangkok. Cabin crew keep going to cockpit to see if the pilots need something. In fact, on long-haul night flights they are encouraged to go to the cockpit or call the pilot on the cabin phone to ensure that they are awake.
“In this case, the air hostess was inside the cockpit for a much longer than usual time. She was allegedly made to sit in the pilot’s seat. During this time, the co-pilot went out to the toilet and he was let in after a substantial time,” said a source.
Pilots inside the cockpit can deny access to the crew using the deny entry option that all cockpits have for safety reasons.
SpiceJet’s Jasra added: “SpiceJet is an equal opportunity employer where there is no gender bias. With respect to the present case, we wish to inform you that we have internal complaint committee in place which is mandated by The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013. We have already initiated inquiry process as per the guidelines laid in the said act.”