Mumbai: Two Air India pilots put the lives of 166 passengers on a Bangkok-Delhi flight in danger by taking a 40-minute break from the cockpit and getting two flight attendants to operate the plane in their absence. Their stunt almost ended in disaster after one of the flight attendants accidentally turned off the auto-pilot, forcing the pilots to rush back to their seats.
The incident took place 33,000 feet in the air on Air India flight AI 133 (an Airbus 321) from Bangkok to Delhi on April 12, which took off from Bangkok on schedule, at 8.55 am.
Thirty minutes later, First Officer Ravindra Nath excused himself from the cockpit for a bathroom break and got flight attendant J Bhatt to occupy his seat in his absense.
Minutes after his co-pilot left the cockpit, Captain B K Soni called another flight attendant, Kanika Kala, and asked her to take his seat. Captain Soni did not leave the cockpit immediately; instead, he spent a few minutes teaching the two flight attendants how to operate the aircraft.
He left the cockpit after putting the plane on auto-pilot, leaving the flight attendants to operate the flight by themselves for the next 40 minutes while he and his co-pilot took a nap in business class.
03/05/13 Bipin Kumar Singh/Mumbai Mirror/Times of India