Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pilot punches engineer in cockpit: Air India captain grounded in Chennai after attack over snag repair

Jan. 17: The pilot of an Air India flight today allegedly punched an aircraft engineer in the cockpit, giving him a bleeding nose, after a dispute over whether a snag had been corrected. 

An Air India spokesperson said Capt. Maniklal had been grounded till an inquiry into the fracas on the Chennai airport tarmac was completed. The Delhi-bound flight, AI 143, eventually left two hours late with its 118 passengers.

Aviation sources blamed the incident on multiple factors: the habitually tense relations between pilots and ground engineers, a failure to follow standard procedure for resolving such disputes, and nerves frayed by the recent disasters involving Southeast Asian airliners.

The Airbus 319 was to take off at 9.45am but was initially delayed by a technical snag after arriving from Mumbai. Aircraft engineer Kannan entered the cockpit, worked on the fault, and then signed the fitness sheet saying the snag had been corrected.

But an unconvinced Maniklal refused to take off. Airline officials quoted other members of the technical team and an airhostess as saying that Maniklal and Kannan began arguing, and the pilot ended up punching the engineer.

As a bleeding Kannan stumbled out of the cockpit, the pilot locked the cockpit door. The other members of the technical team took Kannan to a nearby hospital.

Senior Air India officials rushed to the aircraft and after much persuasion got the pilot to step out of the cockpit. Maniklal was taken to the airline's ground station at the airport.

The flight took off at 11.40am with a different pilot, Krishnakumar. About 30 among the passengers were to catch a connecting flight to Paris; airline officials promised alternative arrangements if they missed it.

Aviation sources spoke of a longstanding undercurrent of tension between pilots and ground engineers, caused by the frequent maintenance issues and compounded by egos. They said each group often undermined the role of the other.

Before flying, a pilot has to check around 250 cockpit switches, each meant for a particular aircraft function. He refuses to fly if there's a problem with any of them. The switches have lights that blink in case of a snag.

A source in a private airline said the standard operating procedure was for the pilot and the engineer to call up their respective bosses in case of a disagreement and have it sorted out at the higher level. This was obviously not done in this case, he said.

One pilot said the recent crashes involving Malaysian and Indonesian aircraft may be "playing on the minds of some of the pilots and making them more tense".


 
Pilot dan Teknisi Berkelahi di Kokpit, Penerbangan Air India Tertunda 3 Jam

NEW DELHI, KOMPAS.com - Sebuah penerbangan maskapai Air India dari kota Chennai menuju Paris tertunda selama tiga jam, Sabtu (17/1/2015), setelah terjadi perkelahian di kokpit antara kapten pilot dan seorang teknisi.

Pesawat dengan nomor penerbangan AI 143 itu tiba dari Mumbai dan dijadwalkan melanjutkan penerbangan menuju New Delhi pada pada pukul 9.45 waktu setempat, sebelum perjalanan berlanjut ke Paris. Namun, sesaat sebelum jadwal keberangkatan sebuah masalah teknis muncul.

Setelah satu tim teknisi naik ke pesawat dan memeriksa masalah yang muncul, kapten pilot merasa kurang yakin dengan hasil pekerjaan sang teknisi sehingga menolak untuk menerbangkan pesawat. Keduanya kemudian bertengkar yang berujung pada perkelahian.

Juru bicara Air India GP Rao mengatakan pihaknya segera melakukan investigasi terkait perkelahian yang akhirnya menunda penerbangan yang membawa 122 orang penumpang itu.
Harian The Times of India mengabarkan pilot yang terlibat perkelahian itu bernama Kapten Manik Lal dan si teknisi bernama VT Kannan.

"Dia (Kapten Lal) tak senang melihat terlalu banyak teknisi di dalam kokpit dan menyuruh sebagian dari mereka keluar," kata seorang sumber di manajemen Air India.

"Teknisi VT Kannan kemudian masuk ke kokpit dan menyatakan pesawat belum siap untuk diterbangkan. Namun pilot menolak mendengarkan penjelasan si teknisi," tambah sumber itu.

Pihak Air India mengatakan penerbangan akhirnya bisa dilanjutkan setelah pilot yang terlibat perkelahian itu diganti. Manajemen maskapai menegaskan hingga kini belum jelas benar pemicu perkelahian itu.

http://internasional.kompas.com

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