Pilots caught napping during flight

2013-05-04 11:28
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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New Delhi - Two Air India pilots were caught napping in business class while flight attendants in the cockpit accidentally turned off the auto-pilot, a lapse that led to the crew being suspended, news reports and officials said on Saturday.

The alleged incident happened at 10km above sea level on a 12 April flight from Bangkok to New Delhi, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

The pilots were rattled out of their 40-minute nap and rushed to the cockpit to save the plane from a disaster that could have claimed the lives of 166 people onboard, the report said.

According to the report, co-pilot Ravindra Nath was the first to take a break, saying he needed to use the washroom 30 minutes into the flight.

Minutes later, Captain BK Soni called another flight attendant into the cockpit and showed the two stewardesses how to operate the controls. He put the plane on auto-pilot and left to join his co-pilot for the nap in business class, the report said.

Suspensions

Air India spokesperson G Prasada Rao said Captain BK Soni and the two stewardesses had been suspended. He denied the report that the pilots had allowed the two attendants to operate the aircraft.

"It is a serious matter. We are investigating the incident," he told dpa. The airline stressed that at "no point in time was the cockpit left unattended by the cockpit crew".

It also said: "During the incident, due to distraction the co-pilot had touched the auto pilot disconnect button momentarily. But the same was connected back."

The incident raised fresh concerns over air safety in India.

Inquiries in the past have found a number of pilots drunk during random pre-flight tests.

In 2010, a number of Indian pilots were found to have fake licences by the authorities.

- SAPA
Read more on:    india  |  air travel
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