x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

I was hijacked, says Air India pilot under probe

The Air India pilot who raised the hijack alarm last month after angry passengers stormed the cockpit, is being questioned by investigators.

DUBAI // The Air India Express pilot who raised a hijack alarm last month when angry passengers stormed the cockpit, yesterday maintained she felt "intimidated and threatened".

Police investigating the October 19 incident said the pilot, Rupali Waghmare, described it as a "hijack-like situation".

Angry passengers entered the cockpit when the Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi to Kochi was diverted to Trivandrum due to bad weather.

"She said six passengers threatened her and her crew," said KS Vimal, the Kerala assistant commissioner of police.

"Three of them entered the cockpit and she pressed the distress button. She said the passengers said 'We will kill you'. We will be questioning the other crew members soon."

After the diversion, passengers were told to travel to Kochi - approximately 200km away - by road.

Some strapped themselves to their seats and refused to leave the plane after being stranded on the runway for nine hours.

An investigation was ordered by the Kerala chief minister, Oommen Chandy, to look into two sets of complaints, from the pilot and the passengers.

Of the 146 passengers, six were detained but not jailed.

He did not set a time-frame for the completion of the investigation and the preparation of a final report.

pkannan@thenational.ae