A day after South First‘s expose on BJP MP Tejasvi Surya opening the emergency exit door of an aircraft, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday, 18 January, confirmed the identity of the passenger.
After South First reported on what transpired on the Indigo aircraft on 10 December, 2022, multiple news platforms followed up on the matter.
While the authorities, including Union Ministry of Civil Aviation Ministry itself, had kept mum about the issue for several weeks, South First‘s reportage compelled the DGCA and Indigo airlines to issue official statements acknowledging the violation of air safety norms.
Neither of them, however, named the passenger involved in the incident.
And now, not only has the confirmation of the incident come from Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, he has also confirmed the identity of the passenger who opened the emergency exit door as the flight was preparing for takeoff as the BJP leader.
‘It was Tejasvi Surya, but…’
Responding to queries by reporters on the matter, Jyotiraditya Scindia said BJP MP Tejasvi Surya himself reported and apologised for the incident where he accidentally opened the emergency exit of an IndiGo aircraft last month.
The minister’s remarks come against the backdrop of Surya, the ruling BJP’s Bengaluru South MP and National President of BJP Yuva Morcha, drawing flak for opening the emergency exit door onboard a flight in Chennai airport.
The issue had gone unreported and under wraps till South First reported on it on 17 January.
Even as the minister identified the erring passenger as Tejasvi Surya, he continued to deem it a “mistake”.
“When the incident happened, Tejasvi Surya himself reported (it), based on which the full protocol was followed as DGCA itself has investigated and enunciated. The full protocol was followed and pressurisation was checked, all the other checks were in place and only then (did) the aircraft take off. I think he himself apologised,” the minister said.
“The person concerned, Tejasvi Surya, himself reported to the crew and the pilot following which all the protocols were followed and only then was the aircraft allowed to take off,” the minister told reporters.
Incident under wraps
There was, however, no response on why the incident was kept under wraps for more than 40 days with neither the DGCA nor Indigo airlines or the ministry concerned acknowledging it.
In a statement on Tuesday, IndiGo said a passenger travelling on flight 6E 7339 from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli on December 10, 2022 accidentally opened the emergency exit during the boarding process.
“The passenger immediately apologised for the action. As per SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), the incident was logged and the aircraft underwent mandatory engineering checks, which led to a delay in the flight’s departure,” it had said.
A senior official at aviation regulator DGCA on Tuesday said the event was duly reported and that no safety was compromised, adding that it appears that, by mistake, the right hand emergency exit got opened by a passenger while the aircraft was on the ground.
“The crew took note and resultantly, all appropriate airworthiness action such as reinstalling of door, pressurization check, etc, were carried out before the release of the aircraft for departure. No safety was compromised,” the official had said.
(With PTI inputs)