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Two Air France pilots suspended after cockpit fight

<i>Christophe Ena/AP</i><br/>Air France said the incident included an exchange of
Christophe Ena/AP
Air France said the incident included an exchange of "inappropriate gestures."

By Pierre Bairin and Lilit Marcus, CNN

Two Air France pilots were involved in an inflight altercation and exchanged “inappropriate gestures” while in the cockpit of an A320 heading from Geneva to Paris, the airline confirmed on Monday.

The spat, which happened in June 2022, led to the suspension of both pilots, who have not been named by Air France.

“The incident was quickly resolved without affecting the conduct or safety of the flight, which continued normally,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement.

“The pilots concerned are currently suspended from flying and are awaiting a managerial decision on the outcome/treatment of the incident. Air France reminds that the safety of its customers and crew members is its absolute priority.”

Although the incident took place two months ago, it became public due to a story last week in the French-language business newspaper La Tribune which alleges there are larger structural issues with Air France.

CNN has not confirmed any of the additional allegations.

The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the French governmental department that oversees the aviation industry, said it “has issued a safety recommendation concerning the operator’s compliance with procedures.”

This was not spurred by the cockpit incident in June. Rather, the recommendation came after an Air France A330 plane traveling from Brazzaville to Paris began leaking fuel and diverted to land in Chad on December 31, 2021.

The BEA report said pilots failed to follow fuel leak procedures that require the affected engine to be shut down to reduce fire risk, resulting in “a substantial reduction in the flight’s safety margin, the fire having been avoided by chance.”

This is not an isolated case, BEA said. “Through a certain number of recent investigations,” they observed “that the crews concerned had not, for various reasons, voluntarily or not, carried out certain procedures in a compliant manner,” the agency said in the same report.

Earlier this year, in a separate incident, an Air France plane arriving at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport experienced technical issues and “instability of flight controls” while landing.

The Boeing 777 aircraft, which had departed from New York City, landed successfully and no passengers or crew members were injured. Air France said its pilots appropriately responded to the situation by circling and making a second attempt at landing.

Air France, which was founded in 1933, is the country’s national flag carrier.

Top image credit: AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File

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Renée Bertini in Paris contributed to this report

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