No Evidence Found Against Expat Pilot in Jet Airways Racial Slur Case
The German pilot is suing cricketer Harbhajan Singh and the passengers for defaming him.
No evidence has been found against expat pilot Capt Bernd Kain Von Hoesslin, who was accused by cricketer Harbhajan Singh of physically assaulting a woman and hurling racist comments at her as well as a handicapped passenger, in an internal probe conducted by Jet Airways, reported The Economic Times.
The airlines had fired Hoesslin after the complaint in April, 2017. Soon after Singh’s tweets about the incident and the woman’s social media post went viral, Jet Airways launched a probe to look into the complaints.
Harbhajan Singh had tweeted about the incident in April and said, “So called this Bernd Hoesslin a pilot with @jetairways called my fellow indian(u bloody indian get out of my flight) while he is earning here.”
“Not only was he racist, but physically assaulted a lady and abused a physically challenged man..absolutely disgraceful &shame on @jetairways. Strict action must b taken &such things should not be allowed or tolerated in r country.. #proudtobeindian let’s get together and sort this,” Singh had said in the tweet. He had also tweeted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take cognizance of the incidence.
The pilot then filed a defamation case, seeking $15 million in compensation with interest from Singh and the passengers. His case came up for hearing at the Bombay High Court earlier this week. His lawyers have said that he has removed the airlines as a defendant and is pursuing the case against Singh and the two passengers and some others who have wrongly incriminated him.
“I was performing my duties as B737 pilot in-command prescribed by Jet Airways and the DGCA policies which prohibit bringing into the aircraft a private battery-operated wheelchair thereby blocking two of four main evacuation escapes route, more so at the time of the safety-sensitive refueling operation with passengers on board,” the pilot said, reported The Economic Times.
Passengers were boarding the plane for an onward journey to Chennai while the plane was being refueled. The pilot saw the build-up of an altercation between two passengers and his flight crew from the camera placed in the cockpit. Other passengers were getting anxious as their entry to the aircraft was getting blocked. As tempers rose, the pilot said he decided to solve the matter and restore order.
These two passengers were alighting from the plane, which was on a hopping flight from Chandigarh to Mumbai. They had boarded the aircraft in Chandigarh. They were trying to maneuver a battery-powered wheelchair through the main entrance blocking the entry of other passengers into the aircraft.
As tempers rose, the accused used expletives, which is when the pilot decided to step-in. He tapped the woman on the shoulder to get her attention for which he was branded as rude.
The German pilot, who has been given a clean-chit by five former colleagues at Jet Airways who were eye-witnesses to the incident, said that he intervened when there was a bottleneck at the entrance of the aircraft where the two passengers were struggling with a battery-operated wheelchair.
“We have been trained to be courteous, polite to passengers, especially those who are handicapped. But some point in time flight safety becomes more important,” he explained. “We get paid to look at threat management. When a few untoward things line up an accident happens,” he said. The pilot denied using racist slurs against the passengers and about the cricketer he said, “That gentleman was not even in the aircraft. Those comments haven’t helped me.”
The pilot said that even though he was let go from Jet Airways, he is fighting the case to regain his reputation in the aviation industry. The 55-year-old pilot has an experience of 30 years and has flown 14,600 hours.