A picture emerged showing two pilots from Indian airline SpiceJet celebrating Holi-Phagwa (festival of colours) inside the cockpit.
Celebrating Holi irresponsibly while operating a flight has led to two SpiceJet pilots getting grounded. While having gujhiyas on a Delhi-Guwahati flight last Wednesday, the two had kept a cup of beverage over the flight deck’s centre console where even a little spillage could have affected safety.
Once the picture of this celebration at 37,000 feet when the aircraft was cruising at 0.79 mach (975 kmph) went viral, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday asked the airline to immediately identify the crew members and act against them. Complying this with directive, the airline a day later off-rostered (taken off flying duty) the pilots.
“Both pilots have been off rostered pending an inquiry. SpiceJet has a strict policy for consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered by all flight crew. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.
Senior pilots have expressed concern at the unsafe celebration. “The coffee cup has been put on the aircraft’s fuel levers in the middle of the centre console. Right below is the engine and (auxiliary power unit’s) fire control switches. If the coffee spills and falls on to the fire panel, it could trigger a short circuit triggering a false fire warning. The crew will have to discharge fire bottles and declare an emergency. The cost to company will be prohibitive,” said a senior pilot.
The central pedastel the two pilots has the main computer interface, important flight controls, engine control and all communication systems. “This is not a place to keep anything. Liquids are a disaster here and can cause a short circuit and loss of control/communication. The central pedestal is full of switches — all critical for a safe flight,” said another senior captain.