Air India pilot with ‘extreme mood swings’ risked lives of 200 people, probe ordered

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A senior Air India pilot, prone to extreme mood swings, did an unsafe manoeuvre with a Delhi-Paris flight carrying over 200 people in April, with the airline grounding the pilot while aviation regulator DGCA is probing the matter.

Raising serious concerns over air safety, the flight’s commander steered the Boeing 787 plane to a higher elevation beyond the stipulated permissible safety levels.

There are serious concerns over such an incident involving an Air India flight especially after the Germanwings plane crashed in March last year when a pilot, reported to have suicidal tendencies, crashed the aircraft into the French Swiss Alps killing more than 140 people.

Sources said soon after the incident was reported by the co-pilot, the commander was grounded and Air India has opened an investigation into the “serious violation”.

The matter is also being investigated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), they added.

According to them, the pilot is prone to “extreme behavioural issues as well as extreme mood swings” and is believed to have displayed signs of distress on a few occasions earlier also.

Sources said the pilot tampered with the onboard flight software and steered the plane to altitude levels where loss of control was possible.

The co-pilot noticed the abnormal flying manoeuvre and then made the commander bring back the aircraft to the normal altitude, sources added.

The incident happened on April 28.

While both investigations are progressing, Air India has also referred the pilot’s case to its medical board since it involves “psychological issues at the individual level”. The pilot, who is still grounded, would be asked to undergo detailed psychological assessments, sources said.

In recent times, there have been increasing instances of air safety violations including grounding of drunk pilots and some working more than stipulated hours.

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