"We are examining the issue. Air India management has sent a report to the (Civil Aviation) Ministry. They have acted as per the operations manual," DGCA chief Arun Mishra said. Airline sources said both the pilots have been suspended and taken off the roster, pending an internal inquiry.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is conducting a thorough probe into the "flagrant violation of passenger safety norms," a senior official said. The pilots, Jagan M Reddy and S Kiran, had allowed 25-year-old Kannada actress Nithya Menon to enter the cockpit mid-air and sit through the flight duration, according to a complaint lodged by a passenger.

The passenger said the actress had during the hour-long flight occupied the observer's seat, which is reserved for examiners and observers authorized by DGCA. With quite a few such incidents coming to fore in the past months, the regulator is considering imposing harsher penalties on the cockpit crew, the sources said, adding that cockpit entry by a passenger is completely prohibited since the 9/11 terror strike.

In May, the pilot of an Air India flight from Delhi to Bangalore got locked out of the cockpit as the door got jammed, resulting in the co-pilot making an emergency landing in Bhopal. In April, two stewardesses were inside the cockpit for nearly 45 minutes as one of the two pilots had taken a long break.


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