BAD ALTITUDE: Pilots suspended after mid-air bust-up in cockpit forcing flight attendants to chaperone them

BAD ALTITUDE: Pilots suspended after mid-air bust-up in cockpit forcing flight attendants to chaperone them
Two Air France pilots suspended after a brawl in cockpit mid-air (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

PARIS: Two Air France pilots, who got involved in a mid-air physical fight on a Geneva-Paris flight in June, were suspended according to an Air France official on Sunday, August 28. The officials said that the dispute had no impact on the rest of the flight, emphasizing the airline's dedication to safety. The flight continued and landed safely.

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News of the brawl spread after France’s air investigation agency, BEA, published a report alleging that some Air France pilots lacked rigor in their adherence to safety procedures. Air France pilots are under investigation after recent incidents that led French investigators to call for stricter safety protocols, including fighting in the cockpit and operating a leaky engine while flying over Africa.

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The pilot and co-pilot reportedly grabbed each other by the collars after getting into a fight shortly after takeoff, according to Switzerland's La Tribune. The report says cabin crew members intervened and one of them spent the entire flight in the cockpit with the pilots. According to a report by France's civil aviation safety investigation authority, the pilots have been suspended while they are under investigation. 

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The incident involving Air France occurs as the company has reportedly experienced increased scrutiny in recent months for safety violations. Investigators looking into civil aviation safety found that the airline had broken safety regulations several times, including during a flight in 2020 when it was discovered that the plane's fuel tank was short by 1.4 tonnes. 

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One of the BEA's reports was centered on a fuel leak that occurred on an Air France flight from Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, to Paris in December 2020. The pilots rerouted the aircraft but did not cut power to the engine or make an emergency landing as required by the leak procedure. The BEA report issued a warning that the engine could have caught fire even though the plane made a safe landing in Chad.

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On June 1, 2009, while en route from Rio to Paris, Flight AF447 plunged into the Atlantic after the pilots lost control of the aircraft due to panic, according to The Sun. French investigators later concluded that the jet's 11,000 ft per minute plunge into the water was caused by a technical malfunction involving the sensors and the pilot's failure to respond to the plane stalling.

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Security is a top priority for all pilots, according to the Air France pilots unions representing Air France pilots, who also defended their actions in emergency situations.

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