Cockpit fistfight between pilots leads to suspension of Air France

Cockpit fistfight between pilots leads to suspension of Air France

Air France suspended two of its pilots for fighting in the cockpit during a Geneva-Paris flight in June.

Despite the scuffle, the flight continued and landed safely and the dispute did not affect the rest of the flight, an airline official said on Sunday, stressing its commitment to safety.

The pilot and co-pilot got into an argument shortly after takeoff and one grabbed the other by the collar after bumping into each other, Swiss La Tribune daily reported.

The cabin crew then intervened and a crew member spent the flight with the pilots in the cockpit, the report said.

News of the fight came after France’s aviation investigation agency, BEA, released a report on Wednesday reporting a lack of rigor among some Air France pilots in respecting safety protocols.

The report focused on a fuel spill on an Air France flight from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo to Paris in December 2020, when the pilots diverted the plane but did not cut the engines or ground power as quickly as possible as required by the procedure.

The plane landed safely in Chad, but the BEA report warned that the engine would have caught fire.

It cited three such cases between 2017 and 2022 and some pilots reacting by analyzing the situation individually rather than following safety procedures.

The BEA also investigated an incident in April involving an Air France flight from New York City’s JFK airport that experienced flight control problems while landing in Paris.

After the incident, the BEA said the two pilots “made simultaneous inputs on the controls” as they circled for another attempt.

“The captain kept the control column slightly nose down while the co-pilot made several, more pronounced, nose-up inputs,” the report said.

Air France said it was conducting a safety audit in response. It has pledged to follow the BEA’s recommendations, including allowing pilots to study after their flights and tightening training regulations on adherence to procedures.

The airline noted that it operates thousands of flights every day and the report mentions only four such security incidents.

Air France pilots’ unions have insisted that safety is paramount for all pilots and have defended the pilot’s actions during the emergency.

Sneha Mali

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