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Two Jet Airways pilots put the their passengers and the plane at risk when they reportedly left the cabin unattended mid-flight, after a physical altercation.

According to reports, a male pilot of a Jet Airways Boeing 777 slapped a female colleague during an argument. After the assault, the woman left the cockpit in tears. While she was being consoled by the flight crew, the other pilot left the cockpit as well, apparently leaving the flight controls unattended.

The Times of India quoted unnamed sources who described the incident:

“Shortly after the plane took off, the two pilots had a fight. The co-pilot slapped the lady commander and she left the cockpit in tears. She stood in the galley sobbing. The cabin crew tried to comfort her and send her back to the cockpit, but in vain. The co-pilot also kept buzzing (calling from the intercom in the cockpit) the crew, asking them to send the second pilot back.”

It isn’t clear which one of the two was the captain and who was first officer, or if they were both captains, therefore equal in rank.

After the cabin crew could not convince the pilot to return to her post, the co-pilot came out and tried to convince her to return to the controls, and at that point there was reportedly no one in the cockpit. Eventually both returned to their duty’s of flying the aircraft.

The Indian airline confirmed the incident did occur and has grounded the two pilots — it’s investigating the incident, which occurred on a London (LHR) to Mumbai (BOM) on January 1st. The flight, 9W119, departed on time, landed safely and followed a normal flight path according to FlightRadar24.

324 passengers were onboard the 777-300ER meaning the aircraft was almost at full capacity — according to SeatGuru the plane can hold 346 people. While the cockpit was unattended briefly, modern jet aircraft, including the Boeing 777, typically operate on autopilot while at cruising altitude, but the presence of at least one pilot in the cockpit is required for safety reasons.

Jet Airways issued a statement to The Times of India:

“A misunderstanding occurred between the cockpit crew of Jet Airways flight 9W 119, London – Mumbai of January 01, 2018. However, the same was quickly resolved amicably and the flight with 324 guests including 2 infants and 14 crew continued its journey to Mumbai, landing safely. The airline has reported the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the concerned crew have been derostered pending an internal investigation that has since been initiated. At Jet Airways, safety of guests, crew and assets is of paramount importance and the airline has zero tolerance for any action of its employees that compromises safety.”‘

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation suspended the male pilot’s flying license and is also investigating the incident.

Featured image by Artur Widak / NurPhoto / Getty Images

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