The altercation happened in June on a flight from Geneva and Paris, and the pilots have been removed from active flying.
Air France pilots
2 pilots on one of the world’s biggest airlines have been suspended following an in-flight altercation. The 2 Air France pilots faced corrective action after reportedly arriving at blows in the cockpit of a flight to Paris.
The incident occurred on a flight between Geneva and Paris in June and was resolved quickly. A spokesperson for the airline approved to Bloomberg that the flight proceeded as usual and that the pilots are awaiting a decision by management on their inappropriate behavior.
According to local news, the pilot and the co-pilot of the Airbus A320 had a disagreement that turned into a physical altercation mid-flight. The June incident became physical shortly after takeoff while the plane climbed to its cruising altitude.
Although the cause of the altercation could not be confirmed at press time, the two men reportedly took each other by the collars and potentially hit or slapped each other before the noise altered fellow crewmembers. One pilot’s version of the events indicated an “inadvertent blow” that led to the escalation of aggression. The other pilot claims that it was a slap. Finally, 1 of the pilots alleged the other threw a wooden object in his face.
Upon hearing the noise in the cockpit, members of the cabin crew stepped in to calmly diffuse the situation just as the tension died down. One member of the cabin even stayed in the flight deck with the pilots for the remainder of the journey to confirm peace and record the situation for later review.
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The Skyteam Alliance carrier approved the dispute and exchange of inappropriate gestures without further revealing the altercation’s specifics. The source of the disagreement was not readily apparent and may be either a personal reason or a professional cause, such as the co-pilot’s refusal to follow instructions.
Air France established that “the incident ended quickly without affecting either the conduct or the safety of the flight which resumed normally” and specified that the airline had removed the pilots involved from active flying pending a managerial decision. The incident was not referred to France’s civil aviation safety investigation authority, the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA), who ensured it was not notified of the incident as there were no consequences for the flight.
The news of the in-flight altercation follows a report by the BEA published earlier this week, which points to several potential safety violations from the carrier. Most notably, a flight on December 31, 2020, from Brazzaville (Congo) to Paris onboard an Airbus A330.
After a fuel tank leak was discovered, the pilots in question failed to follow standard emergency procedures of shutting down the engine to reduce the risk of the leaking fuel catching fire. The aircraft successfully diverted, and all passengers and crew disembarked safely.
Air France has responded to the report with a pledge to conduct a safety audit and beef up post-flight analyses, including expanded opportunities for each pilot to access the analysis of their own flights to enhance performance and safety measures.
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