Top officials of India's aviation regulatory body DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) are fuming that Air India did not report two shocking incidents of a passenger urinating on a co-passenger within a span of 11 days.
According to the aviation regulator, the incident on Air India flight of November 26 from JFK ( New York ) to Delhi and again on December 6 from Paris to Delhi was not reported to the regulators and, in fact, both incidents were sought to be covered up by the airline.
'Air India crew involved in cover-up'
"Prima facie, it appears that the Air India cockpit and cabin crew were involved in a cover-up of the entire incidents by not reporting them to the regulatory body." According to regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation or DGCA, "it appears that provisions related to handling an unruly passenger on board have not been complied with. The conduct of the concerned airline appears to be unprofessional and has led to a systemic failure. It lacks appreciation of regulatory obligations." The DGCA sources believe that the onboard operational levels of the airline clearly worked out a cover up by attempting to push these horrific incidents under the carpet.
Airlines did not inform regulator about second incident as well
The regulatory body particularly showed displeasure over the December 6 incident, which in fact was earlier reported to Delhi's Air Traffic Controller (ATC) about an unruly passenger who urinated on a blanket draped around a female co-passenger in-flight. The offending passenger was pulled aside at Delhi airport but no action was taken as he gave a written apology to the passenger. Even in this case, the cabin crew and the airline did not inform the regulator and basically silenced the matter among themselves.
On the role of the Central z industrial Security Force or CISF which secures the airports, a CISF source said, " CISF has its limits to act on any passenger being unable to book a case under IPC". In any case the CISF cannot take action against a passenger unless the airline asks the involvement of the local police in view of the offense committed.
Cabin staff avoided pressing charges
DGCA sources said both the incidents were let go by the cabin staff who are the only ones along with the affected passenger who can press charges by asking the police to file an FIR.
"The pilot is incharge of any airplane. And when there is an incident inside the airplane, it is like a crime not to report the incident like public urination ," a top Ministry of Civil aviation official told ANI.
DGCA's show-cause notice to airline
On the two Air India passenger urination cases, the DGCA has issued show-cause notices to the Accountable Manager, Director of In-Flight Services, Air India and the pilots and cabin crew members of November 26 flight as to why enforcement action should not be taken against them for non discharge of their duties.
Investigations into the two cases have been initiated by the concerned authorities and both the passengers have been sought to be put on the 'no-fly-list'.
'Accused tendered apology, thus did not press charges': Air India
Air India, responding on the allegation of cover-up, said in a statement: "As the victim and the accused reached an understanding, CISF allowed the accused to leave after he tendered a written apology. In deference to the victim’s wishes, Air India did not lodge a police report."
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)