Air India Crew Suspended For Leaking Photos Of Presidential Boeing 777

Air India crew members were suspended after leaking photos of the new Air India One, the aircraft used by the Prime Minister, President, and other state officials. The new aircraft reached India last month and a crew member from the ferry flight reportedly took photos of the cabin. Access to VIP aircraft is usually highly restricted due to obvious security reasons and crew members have since been suspended.

The new ‘Air India One’ arrived in New Delhi last month after months of anticipation and delays. Photo: Vikramdabas via Wikimedia Commons

Security breach

According to the Times of India, the incident occurred on the ferry flight of the first Air India One last month. A senior cabin crew member used the chance to take pictures of the plane’s cabin to share with family and friends. These pictures quickly made their way online, showing the cabin layout, seats, and more.

Air India has reacted by indefinitely suspending the cabin crew member and cabin supervisor, who should’ve prevented the incident. Additionally, the airline has also revoked benefits from a former pilot who received the photos. Air India also hinted that action could be taken against more officials due to the incident.

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Presidential aircraft follow the strictest security measures to protect their passengers, with limited access for media and others. Photo: Getty Images

Security is top priority

Access to VIP aircraft is usually heavily limited to prevent any sensitive information about flight systems from being revealed. Even media tours of these planes are also controlled by security teams. While the crew member likely didn’t understand the full ramifications of taking a few photos, it is still a clear violation of the safety rules.

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Crew members are specially briefed about the security requirements on VIP aircraft like Air India One. Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons

In a statement to the Times of India, an Air India official said,

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 dos and don’ts. It’s not clear why the crew member thought it was okay to take and share pictures.”

Air India One

The government recently took delivery of two specially-modified Boeing 777-300ERs for VIP travel. These aircraft replace the aging Air India fleet of 747s which were previously used for official travel. The new Air India One comes with state-of-the-air defense systems and a brand-new interior. The plane will be used by the President, Vice President, and Prime Minister of India, along with other dignitaries.

Two 777-300ERs have been heavily modified to add defense systems and a new cabin for the PM and President. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

The 777s were retrofitted by Boeing in Dallas, Texas earlier this year and delivery was delayed from July to October due to COVID-19 concerns. Both planes were delivered in October and will soon enter service on international routes.

What do you think about the new Air India One and this incident onboard? Let us know in the comments below!