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Not complying with regulations on handling unruly passengers to be dealt with strictly: DGCA to airlines

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Aviation safety regulator DGCA on Friday warned airlines that any non-compliance with regulations on handling unruly passengers will be dealt with strictly and invite enforcement action.

The advisory comes in the backdrop of two shocking incidents of urination on Air India flights late last year, which the airline failed to report to the regulator.

In an advisory issued to the airlines’ head of operations, the DGCA reiterated the responsibility of individuals — pilot-in-command, cabin crew and director in-flight services — towards handling of unruly passengers under various provisions of Aircraft Rules, 1937, DGCA regulations, circulars and manuals of airlines approved/ accepted by the regulator.

“Head of operations are hereby advised to sensitise pilots, cabin crew and director-in-flight services of their respective airlines on the topic of handling of unruly passenger through appropriate means under intimation to DGCA,” the advisory stated.

Any non-compliance towards applicable regulations will be dealt with strictly and invite enforcement action, the regulator added.

Under the norms, if an airline finds a passenger’s behaviour unruly, the pilot-in-command has to file a complaint, which is to be investigated by an internal panel.

During the probe, the airline can ban the flyer for a maximum of 30 days. The committee has to decide on the matter within 30 days and specify how long the flyer can be kept from travelling. If the panel fails to give a decision within the stipulated time, the passenger is free to fly.

In the recent past, DGCA has noticed a few incidents of unruly behaviour and inappropriate conduct by passengers during flight, wherein “it is observed that post holders, pilots and cabin crew members have failed to take appropriate actions”, it said.

A drunk passenger allegedly urinated on a woman passenger in the business class of an Air India New York-New Delhi flight on November 26 last year. Within 10 days of this shocking incident, an inebriated passenger travelling on Air India flight to New Delhi from Paris urinated on the blanket of a passenger.

An airline, as per DGCA sources, is bound to report any unruly incident to the regulator. But in both the cases, the matter was not reported to the aviation safety regulator, DGCA sources said.

“Non-action/ inappropriate action/ omission by the airlines towards such untoward incidents has tarnished the image of air travel in different segments of society,” the DGCA said in the advisory.

Under the Aircraft Act, 1937, the pilot-in-command is responsible for the safety of the passengers and cargo carried and for the maintenance of flight discipline and safety of the members of the crew, in addition to being responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight.

Under the regulations, the pilot-in-command is “responsible for assessing the situation quickly if the cabin crew can control the situation and accordingly relay this information to the airline’s central control on the ground for further action.” “In addition … upon landing of the aircraft, airline representative will lodge FIR with the concerned security agency at aerodrome, to whom, the unruly passenger shall be handed over,” as per the advisory.

According to the DGCA, rules describe the responsibility of cabin crew for handling an unruly passenger and to defuse a critical situation until it becomes clear that there is no way to resolve it through verbal communication and written notice to passenger.

Applying restraining devices should be used when all conciliatory approaches have been exhausted, it stated.


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