New Delhi: Airlines are issuing circulars of caution to pilots in the wake of a reported incident on board a flight of one of the airlines recently when a few passengers apparently insisted on meeting the pilot over an alleged medical ailment afflicting one of the passengers and requested the cabin crew to ask the pilot to come out of the cockpit but the pilot apparently refused as per rules. After the Kandahar hijack incident in 1999, India had emphasised that access to cockpits must only be for authorised persons including the two pilots and authorised cabin crew.
Airlines have now warned their pilots not to leave the cockpit, citing the recent alleged incident. Alarm bells seem to have been rung after suspicion that a passenger was feigning illness and a group of three to four passengers some of whom claimed to be doctors were in fact trying to lure the pilot out of the cockpit.
Speculation is also rife that the alleged incident may have taken place on a flight of a carrier on the Delhi-London sector and that the passengers trying to meet the pilot were Pakistanis. This has aroused suspicions in security agencies on whether there could have been any intention to hijack the aircraft by luring the pilot out of the cockpit. One prominent airline issued a warning to pilots on Friday, mentioning the alleged incident on the flight of one of the airlines without going into specifics.
Incidentally, an aircraft on the Delhi-London sector flies over both Pakistan and Afghanistan which lie on the flight path. There is suspicion that an attempt may have been planned in the alleged incident to request the pilot to land en route on a so-called medical emergency in a foreign country and perhaps try to take over the plane thereafter.
The warning circulars caused a flutter among pilots of the Indian carriers who were trying to ascertain the airline and the flight in which the incident is alleged to have occurred.
Incidentally, in the wake of the recent incident in Europe when a co-pilot of a European carrier allegedly crashed the plane, airlines are also cautioning pilots to strictly adhere to Indian aviation rules wherein no pilot is supposed to be left alone in the cockpit. According to Indian aviation rules, if one of the pilots steps out of the cockpit to use the toilet, a senior cabin crew member is supposed to be seated in the cockpit along with the remaining pilot for that duration.