Two Air France pilots were suspended after they began a fight on an Airbus A320 while flying from Geneva to Paris in June 2021.
The incident broke out when the copilot refused some instructions and was subsequently grabbed by the collar and probably smacked by the captain.
After a flight attendant intervened and separated the pilots, the altercation ended.
An Air France spokeswoman has confirmed that a Captain and First Officer have been suspended and are being investigated for engaging in “completely improper behavior,” which allegedly led to the two pilots getting into a physical brawl in the cockpit during flight.
The flight attendants had to enter the flight deck to separate the two after hearing the pilots fighting via the cockpit door, according to a report obtained by the French daily newspaper La Tribune.
To stop the pilots from arguing once more, one flight attendant stayed on the flight deck for the remainder of the trip. It remains unclear what caused the pilots to fall out on such a spectacular level during the flight in June 2022.
According to an Air France spokeswoman, the flight made it to its destination safely and without further problem. While we wait for the results of an internal investigation, the Captain and First Officer will not be flying.
The disclosure, however, comes just after a France’s national aviation accident agency published a highly critical report of the ‘just safety’ culture amongst Air France pilots.
The Bureau d’enquêtes et d’analyses (BEA) report came to the conclusion that “there is a certain culture among some Air France crews which encourages a propensity to underestimate the extent to which strict compliance with procedures contributes to safety.”
Air France crew members were found to have failed to follow protocols in a “compliant manner” in numerous recent examinations, the BEA reported, even though occurrences involving the airline were still “very infrequent.”
According to investigators, safety margins were cut “without the crew really knowing of it.”
The conclusions were contained in a BEA assessment that looked into how Air France pilots responded to a fuel leak on an Airbus A330 flight between Brazzaville, Congo, and Paris on December 31, 2020.
The pilots discovered they were short 1.4 tonnes of fuel shortly after takeoff, and about 25 minutes later, they began a special fuel leak procedure after realizing the levels had fallen considerably lower. However, they stopped just before they were supposed to shut down one of the engines.
The BEA stated that the Captain’s “propensity to express himself first… was not conducive to the co-pilots expressing their ideas and misgivings” despite the fact that the pilots repeatedly discussed the option of shutting down the engine. There was a “serious fire hazard” since the engine wasn’t shut off while the plane was in the air.
In another incident in September 2020, the pilots of an Airbus A319 partially “disregarded operational procedures” so that they could make a fast but destabilized approach for landing at Paris Orly Airport.
Recently, a union for Air France pilots issued a warning that its members were experiencing “chronic fatigue” and depression. The Alter union also claimed that Benjamin Smith, the chief CEO of the Air France Group, was working toward a personal goal of exceeding profit targets despite warnings that flight safety might be at jeopardy.