Flight 6E-264: What’s The Fuss About?

Actress Kangana Ranaut at Chandigarh airport on September 9. Source: Twitter

It often happens on ground, but this time it just happened inside an aircraft. Videos and photographs of media personnel crowding in the aircraft aisle are the latest involving actress Kangana Ranaut to be circulated on social media.

And expected enough, the September 9 incident on IndiGo flight 6E-264, from Chandigarh to Mumbai, has caught the attention of aviation regulator. On Friday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sought a report from IndiGo. And after viewing footage, officials found it to be a case of ‘multiple violation of protocols’ inside the aircraft. Why? Read on.

The September 9 Story

Ranaut, who has been in the news over her recent verbal spat with Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut followed by the Brihanamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) demolishing part of her Bandra office terming it ‘illegal,’ was flying to Mumbai after visiting Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

 

Kangana Ranaut Flight Media - Aviatorsbuzz
Photos taken by passengers of IndiGo flight 6E-264 showing media persons gather in the aircraft aisle. Source: Twitter

The actress who has also spoken out in the matter surrounding the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and put out a video statement against Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, was tailed by the television news channel crew as she was the ‘news of the day.’

Videos and photographs were out since the time Ranaut reached Chandigarh airport, with her security detail in tow. The media entourage also boarded Flight 6E-264 after booking tickets on the same flight. Unlike pre-COVID times getting a seat on board the same flight were not difficult, a media person on-board the flight said. Ranaut however did not entertain the media personnel at all but posted her own social media video later.

DGCA officials said that the videos online show media personnel breaking all social distancing norms in a flight. “Media persons were standing too close to each other in the 6E-264 flight on Wednesday. It seems to be a violation of safety and social distancing protocols. We have asked IndiGo to submit a report on this incident and take action,” a DGCA official said.

Announcements Made, Says IndiGo

IndiGo in a media statement said they have already submitted their reply to the DGCA.”We have given our statement to the DGCA regarding the matter pertaining to flight 6E 264. We would like to reiterate that our cabin crew, as well as the captain, followed all the requisite protocols, including announcements to restrict photography, follow social distancing and maintain overall safety,” the airline said.“We are committed to providing a safe, hassle-free experience to our passengers,” it added.

What the DGCA Found

Reports in Flights - Aviatorsbuzz
Photos taken by passengers of IndiGo flight 6E-264 showing media persons gather in the aircraft aisle. Source: Twitter
  1. A number of persons from the media carried their camera and did recording, while boarding the flight at Chandigarh. The also did recording and live streaming inside the passengers cabin without express permission from the DGCA for the same. However, the crew failed to inform the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and stop them. Such laxity on part of the crew results in violation of Rule 13 of Aircraft Act, 1937.
  2. While boarding, during a flight and even after landing, the passengers were flouting instructions given by the crew and thus seems indulging in unruly behaviour. Such behaviour is again in violation of of CAR 3  Series M Part-VI, whereas the airline has failed to initiate any action in this respect.
  3. The airline staff (including ground staff) and passengers are seen not following guidelines prescribed under Standards Operating Procedure in respect of COVID-19 protocol. This amounts to violation of COVID-19 protocol prescribed by MoCA for undertaking journey by air.

What These Rules Say

Rule 13 of Aircraft Act, 1937

Rule 13. Photograph at aerodromes or from aircraft in flight – No person shall take, or cause or permit to be taken, at a Government aerodrome or from an aircraft in flight, any photograph except in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions of a permission in writing granted by the Director-General, a Joint Director General, a Deputy Director-General or the Director of Regulations and Information of the Civil Aviation Department.

CAR 3  Series M Part-VI

1.1 Adoption of unlawful/disruptive behavior in any situation on board the aircraft or during embarkation/disembarkation may interfere with the performance of the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties or jeopardize the safety of the aircraft/persons/property on board/good order & discipline on board, aggravate discomfort to other passengers & crew members and may invite penal action in accordance with applicable regulations. In such a situation passengers are expected to abide by law of the land and utilise the means and resources for grievance redressal as specified by the Government.

Safety Circular 4/1/2020-IR

Rule 4: Arrivals

This states that the disembarkation from the airlines would be sequential and passengers are advised to follow the instructions and not to rush to the exit gate.

 

Outcome

In view of the above, IndiGo has been directed to initiate suitable action against all those, who are responsible for above mentioned violations of regulatory provisions and guidelines and submit an action taken report with 15 days, failing which suitable action will be initiated against the airline. 

(Note: This story has been edited and updated to include the DGCA findings and present status of the matter.)

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Aditya Anand
Deputy Editor, AviatorsBuzz Aditya Anand in his nearly two decades of Journalism experience has tracked Aviation, Travel, and Hospitality closely and reported on it for major publications like The Hindu, Mumbai Mirror, and MIDDAY.

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