Two pilots for the Indian low-cost airline Spicejet have been suspended after a photo of a full coffee cup being balanced on the controls in the cockpit went viral. Even a tiny liquid spillage has the potential to affect critical aircraft systems and could prevent a plane from flying correctly.
The incident happened as Indian Hindus were celebrating the festival of Holi, which is sometimes known as the festival of colours. The pilots appeared to take part in the celebration by indulging in a ‘gujiya’ – an Indian sweet which is typically eaten during Holi.
Alongside the gujiya was a full paper cup of coffee, both of which were balanced on the centre console cockpit controls on a Spicejet flight from New Delhi to Guwahati in Assam state on March 8.
The photo was shared on social media, but it quickly went viral for all the wrong reasons after pilots and air safety professionals around the world reacted with horror to where the coffee cup had been placed.
Many airlines have stringent rules about the management of hot drinks in the cockpit because of the inherent risk posed by getting liquids on flight deck controls.
In many companies, pilots must drink only from sealed containers and avoid holding the container over any critical system.
Following the outcry, Spicejet now says it has identified the two pilots and “off-rostered” them pending an investigation.
In a statement, the airline said: “SpiceJet has a strict policy for consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered to by all flight crew. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation”.
India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation also says it is investigating the incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.