The civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has banned the pilots, aircraft engineers or additional crew members from travelling in the cockpit unless deemed necessary for the safe operation of the flight.
The decision came after an incident occurred on 13 July 2019, when an Air India pilot requested to travel to Bengaluru as an additional crew member in the cockpit. He was off-duty and was in require for the flight as the Bengaluru flight was full. The pilot was later found to inebriated in a breath analyzer test and hence, was deplaned from the journey. The incident occurred in the cockpit of Air India flight AI 502 Delhi-Bengaluru flight.
The Joint Director General Bir Singh Rai issued the order to all airlines to amend their Operations Manual Part A to align with an Aircraft Information Circular (AIC) 3 of 1997 about cockpit travel. According to AIC 3 1997, the practice of travelling in the cockpit while off-duty is a violation of the code.
“It has come to the notice of DGCA that the Operations Manual Part A permits the travel of airline officials such as pilots. AMEs, etc. in the cockpit even when they are on leave or have not been assigned any duty prescribed in AIC 3 of 1997. This practice is in violation of AIC 3 of 1997 and also provides cover to the officials, who are authorized to travel in cockpit while on leave and detected BA positive,” the order from DGCA stated.
AIC 3 of 1997 clearly states that an airline official can take the extra seat (a.k.a. jump seat) in the aircraft only in certain circumstances, such as ‘when necessary for the safe operation of aircraft’ or ‘better practical knowledge and understanding of the functions of the instruments’.
The pilot who requested for the travel in the cockpit is said to have failed pre-flight alcohol test twice. Reports state that the national carrier has already suspended the pilot for three months over the incident. DGCA has suspended his license for three months.