Two Pilots Suspended Over Viral Tea Cup Photo


Two SpiceJet pilots have landed themselves in hot water after one of them posted a photo showing an uncovered cup of tea perched on the middle of the throttle quadrant.

In the viral photo, the two pilots are seen celebrating the popular Hindu festival Holi with gujhiya desserts and an uncovered cup of tea, on a flight from Delhi to Guwahati on March 8. While the pilots may have thought the photo to be completely innocent in the spirit of celebrating Holi, the uncovered tea cup placed on the center console on top of Boeing 737 fuel cutoff levers drew a bit more attention than they expected.

Photo: Mohan_Rngnathan/Twitter

It’s worrying to see something like this given how many vital controls are integrated around the throttle quadrant. Should they have encountered turbulence, the tea could have spilled, causing potential issues for systems including the engine fire extinguisher switches, trim switches, fuel cut off levers, among other things.

Pilots are allowed to eat during the cruise stage of their flight, but there are policies in place dictating how food and drink items should be stored. Liquid items in particular should be properly covered to prevent spillage in turbulent situations. I can hear the Airbus fans talking about their cup holders and tray tables right about now.

SpiceJet Boeing 737 MAX 8
Photo: Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon/Wikimedia

Shortly after the photo went viral, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stepped in, asking the airline to identify the pilots and have action taken against them. Since then, both pilots were put on suspension following an investigation.

A SpiceJet spokesperson said:

“Both pilots have been off rostered pending an inquiry. SpiceJet has a strict policy for consumption of food inside the cockpit which is adhered by all flight crew. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken upon completion of the investigation.”

There’s no question that the pilots’ actions could have had serious consequences. Proper food and drink storage in the flight deck is important. Airbus even redesigned part their A350 cockpit to make its control panels more liquid resistant.

[Featured Photo: Mohan_Rngnathan/Twitter ]

Read More