Trouble for 28 members of Kerala Strikers, a celebrity cricket team featuring film stars deplaned at Kochi airport by the Commander of a Kochi-Hyderabad Indigo Airlines flight, are far from over.

If the Commander is to follow proper procedure, there is every chance of the team getting booked soon, says Jacob K Philip, aviation analyst based in Kochi.

Fine, imprisonment

If the charges are proved, they might get a punishment of one year imprisonment and/or a fine of ₹5 lakh.

The drama had unfolded aboard Indigo Airlines Kochi-Hyderabad Flight 314 on Friday afternoon.

Just before takeoff and obviously in an expansive mood, the Strikers broke into thunderous claps and whistled wildly even as cabin crew were busy giving flight safety demonstration.

Apparently taken aback and slighted, the crew are reported to have rushed to the Captain and complained.

The Captain, in turn, informed the ATC and brought the aircraft back to the apron and ordered the celebrity cricket team out.

Some passengers too are said to have objected to the behaviour of the team.

Later, organiser of the Celebrity Cricket League told the media that there’s no rule that says one can’t clap on board. It is no crime. The team didn’t misbehave with anyone.

Disturbing order

Clapping is of course no crime, says Philip. But disturbing the crew of an aircraft is. Especially when it is performing a crucial duty directly related to the safety of the aircraft.

Rule 23 of Indian Aircraft Rules, 1937, pertains to assault and other acts endangering safety or jeopardising good order and discipline.

It says that no person shall on board an aircraft (a) assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, any person (b) intentionally cause damage to or destroy any of property (c) consume alcoholic beverages or drugs, which is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft or of any person or jeopardises good order and discipline on board.

Violated rules

Rule 22 deals with assault and other acts of interference against a crew member.

It says that no person shall, on board an aircraft, a) assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, a crew member which may interfere with the performance of the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties; b) refuse to follow a lawful instruction given by the Pilot-in-Command, or on behalf of the Pilot-in-Command by a crew member, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the aircraft or of any person or property on board or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board.

If the Kerala Strikers clapped and whistled while the safety demo was on, it is obvious that they are guilty of violating the above rules.

Now, can the Commander decide to not to proceed further with the issue? Of course not, Philip pointed out.

Commander’s option

According to a circular released by DGCA on January 27, 2010, it is mandatory for the Commander to report such incidents without any delay.

This is to reiterate that the procedure to report incidents of unruly/disruptive passenger is same as that for any reportable incident.

All incidents are to be reported to Director Air Safety – Headquarters (Cabin Safety Division) and in addition to Director Air Safety/Regional Controller Air Safety in whose region the flight lands after the incident.

(This article was published on February 23, 2014)
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