India’s SpiceJet de-rosters pilots for unsafe Holi celebration in cockpit midair

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Two pilots in an Indian budget carrier have been de-rostered after being found to be celebrating Holi inside the cockpit during a flight last week.

The SpiceJet pilots were pictured carelessly eating and drinking while on duty.

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The photo showed an open cup with the SpiceJet logo atop a control lever, which is surrounded by dense, complex electronic circuits crucial to maintain flight.

While the pilots’ faces are not visible in the image, the duo were seen holding a ‘gujjiya’ – a deep-fried sweet dish eaten during the Indian festival of color, Holi – in addition to the drink.

A SpiceJet spokesperson was quoted as saying: “SpiceJet has a strict policy (regarding) consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered by all flight crew. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation,” to local and international media.

Once the picture made rounds on social media, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation reportedly asked the budget airline to take action against the pilots.

The Times of India reported that the image was taken at 37,000 feet at 0.79 mach or 975 km/h.

In 2014, another Holi celebration involving a dance from the pilot, cabin crew and some passengers mid-journey resulted in suspensions for some of the involved flight personnel.

India’s aviation regulatory body late last year said it will re-allow SpiceJet to reinstate flights gradually if the airline proves its engineering strength and the financial ability to stock up on spares. The move came in August, eight weeks after the authority slashed approved routes by half over safety concerns.

SpiceJet has reported over a dozen safety incidents since May 2022, which included a side windshield outer pane that cracked mid-flight and a malfunctioning indicator light, prompting the DGCA to issue a notice to the airline on July 5 asking why no action should be taken against it.

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