An Indian airline has grounded two of its senior pilots who commanded a London-Mumbai flight with over 324 people on board over allegations they had a fight mid-air and one of them briefly left the cockpit. Some reports suggest that at one time the cockpit was left unmanned when one pilot left to placate the other after the fight.
The brawl between the two Jet Airways pilots began soon after the 9W 119 Boeing 777 flight took off, Indian publication Asian Age reported. Some reports suggest the pilots, a man and a woman, were a couple.
The male commander allegedly slapped the female co-pilot mid-flight after which she left the cockpit.
According to several Indian newspapers, the female pilot who left the cockpit had to be persuaded by the cabin crew to go back in but she reportedly came out a second time shortly afterwards.
The male pilot also apparently left the cockpit, leaving the controls briefly unattended, the Times of India newspaper reported.
The cabin crew, fearing for the safety of those on board, requested the female pilot to go back in. She is then said to have returned to the controls until the flight landed.
A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the incident but said that the problem was "quickly resolved amicably and the flight with 324 guests including 2 infants and 14 crew continued its journey to Mumbai, landing safely".
The flight, which had departed London at about 10am GMT on Monday, arrived in Mumbai on schedule, approximately nine hours later at midnight.
"At Jet Airways, safety of guests, crew and assets is of paramount importance and the airline has zero tolerance for any action of its employees that compromises safety," Jet Airways said in their statement.
"The airline has reported the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the concerned crew has been de-rostered pending an internal investigation that has since been initiated".
Terming this a "serious issue", the regulatory body's chief BS Bhullar told the Times of India: "We have ordered an investigation into this and have suspended the privileges of co-pilot's license pending the probe."