Two commercial pilots were suspended from their duties after a viral photograph they took from the cockpit revealed a potentially fatal rule violation. Luckily, that didn’t happen, and the worst that happened here is the two pilots were issued consequences.
The Daily Caller had the scoop, reporting that a captain and first officer for SpiceJet were behaving a little too casually at cruising altitude while celebrating Holi, a “popular and significant Hindu festival.”
The Daily Caller wrote:
The captain and first officer of a flight between Delhi and Guwahati snapped a photo mid-flight of a SpiceJet paper cup of coffee and guyijas, a sweet pastry enjoyed during Holi, on the control board. The photo appears to show the pilots celebrating Holi, a Hindu holiday that took place on March 8, while piloting the aircraft. The photo eventually made its way to Twitter where it sparked outrage.
Coffee and treats in the cockpit? What could be so harmful? Nothing usually, except in this case the coffee in question was perched precariously near flight controls, specifically the thrust lever, without a required top. In other words, the plane was one bump away from a nasty spill into one of the main operating components and related electrical or hydraulic systems and rendering the plane inoperable.
It better have been a delicious brew to risk the lives of everyone on board.
@CaptShaktiLumba @AwakenIndia @leofsaldanha @NarendranKs @OMRcat @jagritichandra @nambath @JM_Scindia Samosa and tea at 37000ft, cruising at 0.79M!Even horoscope cant save you if there is an emergency😡 pic.twitter.com/6UfhnDfzOk
— Mohan Ranganathan (@Mohan_Rngnathan) March 14, 2023
At the risk of citing experts, who have clearly destroyed all credibility over the past few years, those in the aviation industry certainly know what they’re talking about when it comes to safely operating an enclosed, pressurized, and highly technical tube above the clouds.
“It was totally inexplicable behavior. All pilots are aware of the dangers of spilled liquids in the cockpit,” retired pilot Shakti Lumba told CNN.
Another aviation insider, Mohan Ranganathan, warned, “Even the slightest turbulence and coffee spills onto the electronics, it will foul the systems. This is a criminal act,” he commented on social media.
SpiceJet announced it had grounded both pilots pending further investigation.
“It is not clear from the post when was the photograph taken, whether it is recent or old, the sector being operated or the crew or even the aircraft in question. We are trying to ascertain these details,” a company spokesperson said to a local Indian outlet.
While airline accidents are thankfully quite rare, SpiceJet has the ignominious reputation of not being a stranger to potentially dreadful outcomes, with a series of safety incidents having been recorded in the past year.
The Hindustan Times reported that the company had its approved number of departures slashed by half last year after a “string of flight safety incidents,” writing:
SpiceJet was involved in a string of flight safety incidents last year, prompting the DGCA to put the carrier under enhanced surveillance comprising audits and safety checks. Its services were capped at half its approved schedule on July 27 last year, and the restrictions were then extended twice, first till September 21 and then till October 29.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued a notice to SpiceJet for “poor internal safety oversight and inadequate maintenance” that resulted in “degradation of safety margins”, junior aviation minister VK Singh said in a written reply in Parliament on Monday.
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