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DGCA sees red at midair Holi dance by SpiceJet cabin crew

It was a ‘high’ spirited Holi celebration that had passengers cheering, but the aviation regulator is not amused. In fact, it’s making a song and dance over the issue.

The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to SpiceJet, asking why its licence should not be suspended, after a video of the cabin crew on a Goa-Bangalore flight dancing in the aisles went viral on social media.

A preliminary probe ordered by DGCA chief Prabhat Kumarhas revealed that similar ‘shows’ took place on other flights, including Delhi-Goa-Delhi; Jaipur-Mumbai-Delhi; Mumbai-Bangalore-Kolkata and Bangalore-Pune-Ahmedabad. The cabin crew cavorted to Bollywood chartbuster ‘Balam Pichkari’ 35,000 feet up in the air while pilots took pictures on their mobile phones. Passengers can be seen in the video, cheering and clapping along.

 

ut while the song may have helped Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone starrer ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ take off at the box-office, DGCA is now threatening to ground the airline.

The DGCA notice states that crew and passengers dancing in the aisles endangered aircraft safety.

Using a video shot on the SG 876 Goa-Bangalore flight as evidence, the notice states, “Cabin crew acts had drawn the attention of other crew on duty, thus reducing their preparedness/alertness. The frequent movement of the dancing crew may have affected the aircraft’s centre of gravity during flight and created turbulence.”

The airline is charged with permitting use of cellphones in the air to take pictures “which is against present regulation”. It is accused of creating an environment that “might have instigated passengers to become unruly…. It is established that SpiceJet failed to observe various safety regulations to provide a safe flight.”

SpiceJet said, “We are looking into the report in cooperation with the DGCA. The cockpit was manned at all times as per DGCA regulations that govern situations when one pilot is outside, for instance to use the lav (toilet). The dance was professionally choreographed and was a Holi delight for passengers, much as is done by several airlines around the world to celebrate special occasions. The dance sequence lasted just 2.5 minutes.”

SpiceJet said it had put additional crew members — two airhostesses and an in-flight manager — on the flights for this jig. SpiceJet CEO Sanjiv Kapur had met DGCA Prabhat Kumar on Tuesday. But with the US having recently downgraded India’s flight safety ranking, the regulator was in no mood to accept their defence.

The airline has 15 days to reply to the notice, “failing which it will be assumed they have nothing to say in their defence and suitable action will be taken against them.”

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