Peeing case: Crew decided to record matter as non-reportable in-flight incident, says Air India (Ld)
New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) Air India on Tuesday said that the crew made a judgement call to record the matter as a non-reportable in-flight incident because of many reasons. The airline said that the alleged perpetrator was calm, co-operative and professed ignorance of the allegation (of peeing on co-passenger). He posed no risk to flight safety in the judgement of the crew, said the airline.
"Based on the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, that the alleged perpetrator was peaceful, co-operative and claiming ignorance of the event, that there was no risk to flight safety and that a resolution had been witnessed between the parties, the crew made a judgement call to record the matter as an (non-reportable) in-flight incident rather than a (reportable) case of unruliness. It should also be noted that, in the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, crew were being asked to make a presumption of the accused's guilt which runs contrary to natural justice and due process," said Air India.
The airline said that upon receipt of the flight report, ground staff did not challenge the crew's assessment and, therefore, also did not report the matter as an unruly incident.
Air India has closed its internal investigation into the actions by its crew operating and administrative staff supporting AI102 on 26th November 2022.
About the peeing incident on the flight on November 26, the airline said that the crew were approached by the complainant seeking assistance after allegedly being urinated on by a fellow passenger. "In the absence of any witnesses, the crew took the complainant's allegation at face value and assisted her by providing fresh clothes, helping clean her belongings and relocating her to another business class seat of the same type as her original one," said the airline.
Air India said that the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time in the judgement of the crew. "When awoken and confronted with the allegation, the alleged perpetrator was calm, co-operative and professed ignorance of the allegation. He had not been served excessive alcohol by crew and did not appear intoxicated to the crew. The Commander was kept regularly informed by cabin crew. In the judgement of the crew, the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time," it said.
Air India acknowledges that, in immediately taking the complainant's accusation at face value and providing assistance, it follows that the matter should have been reported as a prima facie case of a passenger "behaving in a disorderly manner towards other passengers" and, as such, meeting the description of unruly behaviour at paragraph 4.9(d)(ii) of Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3, Series M, Part VI (the CAR). The matter should have been classified and reported as such, without prejudice to any subsequent investigation into the facts, said the airline.
"In light of the mitigating circumstances and the financial detriment already incurred by the crew during their period of de-rostering, Air India deems the license suspension of the Commander excessive and will be assisting him with an appeal," said Air India.
Aviation regulator DGCA on January 20 imposed a fine of Rs 30 lakhs on Air India and suspended the license of pilot-in-command for three months in the Air India peeing case which occurred on November 26, 2022. Moreover, the regulator also imposed a penalty of Rs 3 lakh on Director-in-flight services of Air India for failing to discharge her duties.
As per the regulator, the incident of passenger misbehaviour which occurred on AI-102 flight from New York to New Delhi, came to the notice of the DGCA on January 4, 2023 wherein a male passenger conducted himself in a disorderly manner and allegedly relieved himself on a female passenger.
Currently, the matter lies with the Court and the case has witnessed many twists . The accused in the case, Shankar Mishra, was arrested from Bengaluru and brought to Delhi where the case against him was registered.