Air France A330

Air France Suspends Pilots After Mid-Air Disagreement

  • Air France, Airbus, A220-500

    Air France

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    AF/AFR

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub(s):
    Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport

    Year Found:
    1933

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    Airline Group:
    Air France-KLM

    CEO:
    Anne Rigail

    Country:
    France

Two pilots with one of the world’s largest airlines have been suspended following an in-flight altercation. The two Air France pilots faced corrective action after reportedly coming to blows in the cockpit of a flight to Paris.

The incident occurred on a flight between Geneva and Paris in June and was resolved quickly. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed to Bloomberg that the flight proceeded as usual and that the pilots are awaiting a decision by management on their inappropriate behavior.

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

A scuffle in the cockpit

According to local news, the pilot and the co-pilot of the Airbus A320 had a disagreement that turned into a physical altercation mid-flight. The June incident became physical shortly after takeoff while the plane climbed to its cruising altitude.

Although the cause of the altercation could not be confirmed at press time, the two men reportedly took each other by the collars and potentially hit or slapped each other before the noise alerted fellow crewmembers. One pilot’s version of the events indicated an “inadvertent blow” that led to the escalation of aggression. The other pilot claims that it was a slap. Eventually, one of the alleged pilots the other threw a wooden object in his face.


Upon hearing the noise in the cockpit, members of the cabin crew stepped in to calmly defuse the situation just as the tension died down. One member of the cabin even stayed in the flight deck with the pilots for the remainder of the journey to ensure peace and record the situation for later review.

The incident occurred aboard a flight from Geneva to Paris. Photo: Airbus

The flight landed safely in Geneva with all passengers and crew without any further interruptions.

The way forward

The Skyteam Alliance carrier confirmed the dispute and exchange of inappropriate gestures without further revealing the altercation’s specifics. The source of the disagreement was not readily apparent and may be either a personal reason or a professional cause, such as the co-pilot’s refusal to follow instructions.

Air France established that “the incident ended quickly without affecting either the conduct or the safety of the flight which continued normally” and specified that the airline had removed the pilots involved from active flying pending a managerial decision. The incident was not referred to France’s civil aviation safety investigation authority, the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA), who confirmed it was notified of the incident as there were no consequences for the flight.

The reasoning behind the cockpit dispute was not immediately clear. Photo: Air France

The news of the in-flight altercation follows a report by the BEA published earlier this week, which points to several potential safety violations from the carrier. Most notably, a flight on December 31, 2020, from Brazzaville (Congo) to Paris onboard an Airbus A330. After a fuel tank leak was discovered, the pilots in question failed to follow standard emergency procedures of shutting down the engine to decrease the risk of the fuel leaking catching fire. The aircraft successfully diverted, and all passengers and crew disembarked safely.

Airline response

Air France has responded to the report with a pledge to conduct a safety audit and a beef up of post-flight analysis, including expanded opportunities for each pilot to access the analysis of their own flights to improve performance and safety measures.

Source: Bloomberg

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