The pilots and cabin crew of an Air India flight brawled at 30,000 feet after a stewardess accused a co-pilot of sexual harassment.
The cockpit of the Airbus A320 was reportedly left unmanned during the scuffle and at one point a pilot allegedly threatened to land Flight IC-844, from the United Arab Emirates to Delhi, in Pakistan, which it was flying over. According to Indian media reports, crew members threw punches and hurled abuse at each other in full view of 106 passengers.
Air India said it had grounded two pilots and two crew members over the incident, which happened at about 4:30am local time on Saturday.
“The incident of [a] scuffle between the two pilots and cabin crew members of [flight] IC-884 was reported yesterday morning,” said an Air India spokesman. “As there have been claims and counter-claims between the parties involved, the management has ordered an inquiry, which is still in progress. Further action will be decided based on the inquiry report.”
It is still not clear precisely how or when the fight started, but it is believed to have stemmed from an angry exchange during the pre-flight briefing at Sharjah airport in the UAE. Police in Delhi said that a 24-year-old stewardess accused one of the flight deck crew of trying to molest her and of pushing her out of the cockpit when she resisted.
Officers said that they had registered a case against two pilots — identified as Commander Ranbeer Arora and Captain Aditya Chopra — on suspicion of committing “assault or use of criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty."