Two pilots of Indian airline SpiceJet are in hot water for precariously balancing an uncovered cup of coffee near the plane’s thrust levers after an image of the cockpit java-and-pastry feast went viral.
Appalled aviation experts noted if the coffee spilled, the plane’s controls could have been impacted.
“The Central pedestal is not a table. Even the slightest turbulence and coffee/ spills on to the electronics, it will foul the systems. This is (a) CRIMINAL act,” tweeted Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation-safety expert who shared the photo.
The captain and first officer’s faces are not pictured in the image, which shows the SpiceJet-branded paper cup sitting on the console as they hold fried pastries called gujiyas.
The sweets are a staple during the Hindu festival of Holi, which took place March 8.
The pilots were apparently celebrating the holiday during a domestic flight from Delhi to the northeastern city of Guwahati as they were flying at 37,000 feet, the Times of India reported.
On Tuesday, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation asked the airline to identify the pilots and take disciplinary actions against them.
“Both pilots have been off rostered pending an inquiry. SpiceJet has a strict policy for consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered by all flight crew,” an airline spokesperson told the news outlet.
“Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation,” the rep added.
Retired pilot Shakti Lumba, the former chief of operations of Indian carrier IndiGo, told CNN the “feel-good social media photo-op” from the pilots was “immature” and “undesirable.”
“It was totally inexplicable behavior. All pilots are aware of the dangers of spilled liquids in the cockpit,” he said, adding that most company and aviation rules prohibit placing any foods and liquids in that spot.
Indian aviation regulations allow pilots to have food and drinks in the cockpit but under strict guidelines, including the need to have lids and be places on trays to avoid spills, the BBC reported.
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