Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday suspended three pilots, including two of SpiceJet and one of Air India, for violation of safety norms of aviation. One cabin crew of Air India has also been suspended. The DGCA suspended flying licences of the two SpiceJet pilots for six months after an aircraft operated by them damaged runway edge lights during landing at Kolkata airport, a senior official said.
The incident happened on July 2 when the plane was operating Pune-Kolkata flight.
In recent weeks, the watchdog has been taking strict action against individuals and entities for various violations. The official told news agency PTI that flying licences of the two pilots of SpiceJet - Aarati Gunasekaran and Saurabh Gulia - have been suspended for six months.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) decision came after replies provided by them to the showcause notice were not satisfactory.
Investigation into the incident found that the aircraft touched down approximately 1,300 feet from runway threshold point, the official said. This resulted in the plane "further veering to right of runway centerline and damaging runway edge lights," the official added.
The six-month suspension of flying licences is effective from July 2, the date when the incident took place.
A response from SpiceJet was awaited.
In a similar action, the DGCA on Monday suspended the licence of an Air India pilot for six months for “physical altercation” with a cabin crew member last month. The pilot had allegedly asked the crew member to clean the tiffin after he had finished his meal before taking off from Bengaluru airport, provoking a heated argument between the two.
The incident took place on June 17 when the flight was to take off from the Bengaluru airport to the Kolkata airport. "Air India Pilot in Command Captain Milind has been suspended by the DGCA for a period of six months from the date of the incident," a source told PTI.
Captain Milind and cabin crew member Rajat Verman were involved in a "heated argument and thereafter physical altercation when the aircraft was on ground", they said.
The DGCA had issued a show cause notice to the pilot on June 28, asking him to explain in writing why action should not be taken against him, the sources said.
"The reply of the show cause notices was reviewed by the regulator and it was not found satisfactory. As a result, he has been suspended for six months," the source said.
"We have taken a serious note of this incident that happened. We will soon ask pilots to not bring their own food on flights," said a senior official of the national carrier had earlier told News18.
The Flight AI-772 was to leave from Bengaluru for Kolkata at 11.40 am, but it got delayed by nearly two hours as the captain and the cabin crew member who had gotten into a fight had to be removed and replaced on the plane.
Earlier, on March 27, Air India had instructed its pilots to not order special meals for themselves during flights as they are required to adhere to a "meal schedule laid down by the company".
The decision was taken as pilots were found to be ordering special meals for themselves such as burgers, soups, smoked salmon, guacamole and hummus with pita bread.
(With PTI inputs)