In the Air India team that ferried home India’s first-ever VVIP aircraft from Boeing facility in Texas last month was a senior cabin crew member who couldn’t resist the temptation to take photographs of the interiors of the spanking new aircraft cabin and share it with his relatives and friends to earn bragging rights. What he ended up earning though was a suspension.
“After photographs of the highly secured aircraft made their way to social media, an investigation was initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office and the source of leak was traced. The said crew member along with the cabin supervisor of that flight has been suspended till further notice. The supervisor was suspended because it was her duty to ensure that such omissions don’t occur,” said a source.
The action against the errant lot doesn’t end there though. “One of the people whom the said crew sent the pictures was a relative of his. She is a retired Air India employee. Air India has suspended this retired employee’s free passage and medical benefits,” the source adding some other Air India officials too might receive suspension orders. Air India spokesperson refused to comment.
The said aircraft is the first of the two retrofitted Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft ordered by India. The aircraft, with the call sign “Air India One”, will fly the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister on international state visits. The aircraft interiors include, among other details, two conference rooms, a press briefing room, a VVIP suite and a medical room.
“It’s no secret that the security norms surrounding VVIP aircraft are stringent ones. The crew selected to operate such flights are generally briefed about the does and donts. It’s not clear why the crew member thought it was okay to take and share pictures,” said an airline official.
“The pictures put on social media show some of the layouts and seats inside the aircraft. Irrespective of how serious that security breach is, it’s not something that should have happened,” said an official. The aircraft was earlier scheduled to be leave the Boeing facility in July, but the delivery was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.