Two pilots working for an Indian airline, SpiceJet has suspended its pilots after they allegedly consumed coffee and pastries inside the cockpit, a situation that could have gone horribly wrong had one of the hot drinks spilled.
A photograph making rounds on social media showed an uncovered cup with the airline’s logo placed dangerously close to the control levers inside the cockpit.
The picture has since sparked outrage among people online.
The pilots’ faces were not shown in the photos. It also showed one of the pilots holding a gujiya, a sweet pastry usually made to celebrate the festival of Holi, which took place on March 8.
On Tuesday, India’s aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) demanded that SpiceJet identify the pilots in the photograph and take action against them.
A statement by SpiceJet has now revealed that both pilots have been taken off the roster pending an inquiry.
‘SpiceJet has a strict policy (regarding) consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered by all flight crew.
Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation,’ the spokesperson said.
Shakti Lumba, a retired pilot and former head of operations of Indian carrier IndiGo, said the ‘feel-good social media photo-op’ from the pilots was ‘immature’ and ‘undesirable,’ especially as they are responsible for the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.
‘It was totally inexplicable behavior. All pilots are aware of the dangers of spilled liquids in the cockpit,’ he said, adding that most company rules and aviation regulations prohibit placing any foods and liquids on the central pedestal console.
Underneath that console is a vast array of electrical wiring that is vital to controlling the plane – and spilling piping hot drinks on it might cause technical equipment to overheat or trigger the system to shut down.