The latest safety incident to afflict the airline saw two Air France pilots banned after fighting in the cockpit of an Airbus plane during a journey from Geneva to Paris.
A airline spokesperson on Saturday verified a claim by the La Tribune newspaper and said the mid-air conflict happened in June.
The pilots are awaiting management’s judgement on their “completely improper behaviour,” she added, adding that the matter was swiftly handled and the flight continued properly.
The information about the physical altercation was made public shortly after a report by France’s civil aviation safety investigation body, the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, was released on Tuesday. The report found that a string of mistakes at the French branch of Air France-KLM indicated “changes and even violations” of procedures that resulted in a reduction in safety margins. In response, the airline promised to conduct a safety audit and strengthen post-flight analyses.
The newspaper reported that in the June incident, a disagreement between the captain and co-pilot got violent shortly after takeoff as the plane ascended, with the men grasping each other by the collars after one may have punched or slapped the other. Upon hearing a noise in the cockpit, cabin crew members, intervened and one member spent the rest of the flight in the flight deck, La Tribune said.
Because there were no repercussions for the flight, according to the BEA, it was not informed of the occurrence.
The emphasis of Tuesday’s BEA study was on another Air France trip in December 2020 over Chad, when the pilots of an Airbus A330 discovered at cruising altitude that 1.4 tonnes of gasoline were missing from the aircraft’s tanks. By not shutting down the leaky engine or choosing to touch down at the closest airfield, the crew disregarded safety protocols and increased the likelihood of a fire — airborne or on landing — the study stated. The aeroplane safely touched down.
Another “severe” in-flight incident involving Air France was the subject of an inquiry by the BEA in April. When a pilot was heard claiming the jet was “going crazy,” the pilots of a Boeing 777 airplane aborted a landing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and informed air traffic controllers that the aircraft was unresponsive during the approach. The second attempt at landing was successful for the New York-bound airplane.