Passenger Assaults Pilot on IndiGo Flight


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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • What is Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)?
  • News Summary: Passenger Assaults Pilot on IndiGo Flight
  • What can be termed as an unruly behaviour?
  • What is the procedure to be followed after the incident is over?
  • The category levels of disruptive passenger behaviour
  • What are the penalties for unruly behaviour by a flight passenger?

Why in news?

  • A passenger aboard an IndiGo flight physically assaulted the aircraft's pilot while he was making an announcement regarding delays.
  • The airline declared the passenger unruly, and further action will be guided by the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on “Handling of unruly passengers”.
    • The CAR are issued by the aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
    • The CAR lay down the procedure that airlines must follow with regard to unruly passenger behaviour of varying degrees at the time of the incident and subsequently.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)

  • The DGCA is the regulatory body of the Government of India in the field of Civil Aviation, primarily dealing with safety issues.
  • It became a statutory body under the Aircraft (Amendment) Act, 2020.
  • It is responsible for regulation of air transport services to/from/within India and for enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety and airworthiness standards.

News Summary: Passenger Assaults Pilot on IndiGo Flight

Unruly behaviour

  • As per the guidelines, Unruly behaviour includes (but is not limited to):
    • consuming liquor or drugs resulting in unruly behaviour;
    • smoking;
    • not obeying the pilot’s instructions;
    • using threatening or abusive language against crew or other passengers;
    • physically threatening and abusive behaviour;
    • intentionally interfering with discharge of duties by the crew; and
    • endangering the safety of the aircraft and those on board.

Procedure to be followed after the incident is over

  • When an airline receives a complaint of unruly passenger behaviour from the pilot-in-command, it must refer the complaint to an internal committee.
  • The committee must include:
    • a retired district and sessions judge as chairman,
    • a representative of a different airline and,
    • a representative of a passengers’ association, or consumer association, or a retired officer of a consumer disputes redressal forum.
  • The internal committee is required to decide the matter within 30 days, along with the categorisation of the incident in one of three defined category levels.
  • The committee shall also decide the duration for which the unruly passenger will be banned from flying.
  • The committee’s decision shall be binding on the airline.

The category levels of disruptive passenger behaviour

  • The levels define behaviour ranging from verbal harassment to murderous assault.
  • Level 1: Unruly behaviour, including physical gestures, verbal harassment, and unruly inebriation (intoxication)
  • Level 2: Physically abusive behaviour, including pushing, kicking, hitting, and grabbing or inappropriate touching or sexual harassment.
  • Level 3: Life-threatening behaviour, including damage to aircraft operating systems, physical violence such as choking, eye gouging, murderous assault, and attempted or actual breach of flight crew compartment.

Penalties for unruly behaviour by a flight passenger

  • Concerned airline may ban such unruly passenger from flying
    • Pending decision of the Committee, the concerned airline may ban such passenger from flying, but such period may not exceed a period of 30 days.
    • In case the Internal Committee fails to take a decision in 30 days, the passenger will be free to fly.
  • Database of unruly passengers
    • Airlines are required to maintain a database of unruly passengers and share it with the DGCA and other airlines.
    • The DGCA maintains a No-Fly List based on the data shared by carriers.
  • Other carriers can also ban such passengers from flying
    • In addition to the airline on whose aircraft the incident occurred, other carriers also have the option of banning such passengers from flying for varying durations based on offence levels.
    • For Level 1 and 2 offences, the ban on flying can extend to three months and six months respectively.
    • For a Level 3 offence, the minimum ban should be for 2 years, with no upper limit.
  • Banned individual can appeal
    • An individual who is banned from flying can appeal within 60 days to an Appellate Committee.
    • This committee will be constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and headed by a retired judge of a High Court.
    • An appeal against the appellate panel’s decision shall be made to a High Court.

Q1) What is the function of the Ministry of Civil Aviation?

Located at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan at the Safdarjung Airport in New Delhi, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for formulation of national policies and programmes for the development and regulation of the Civil Aviation sector in the country.

Q2) What is a statutory body? 

A statutory body is a government-created organization that operates under the authority of a legislative act, also known as a statute. These bodies are typically established to carry out specific functions that are in the public interest and to regulate and oversee certain industries or sectors.

Source: A passenger attacked a pilot. How are airlines expected to respond? | Ministry of Civil Aviation | Times of India