A senior cabin crew member of the Air India team, which flew with India’s first custom-made VVIP Boeing 777 from Texas last month, has been found violating the security norms for the aircraft.
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The cabin crew member shared sensitive information by clicking pictures of the interior of the aircraft, which is prohibited due to security concerns.
The pictures of Air India One flight, which will be used to ferry the Indian Prime Minister, President, and other state dignitaries for official duties, shows attractive interior design of the aircraft and the modifications such as a separate cabin for the VVIPs to hold meetings and a mini medical center.
Pictures shared by Indian news media show that the rear seats in aircraft are of the Economy class category while the rest of the seats are Business class. It also includes conference rooms, a press briefing room, and a VVIP suite, which are not visible in the photos.
The Prime Minister’s office initiated an investigation to trace the leak after the pictures of highly secure aircraft made their way to social media.
A source told the Times of India that the crew member along with the cabin supervisor was suspended till further notice. The supervisor was suspended as she was responsible to ensure that such omissions do not occur.
Air India has also stripped a retired employee of the free passage and medical benefits as she was the relative of the crew member and had received pictures through her. While Air India has not made any statement, some more Air India officials may receive suspension orders.
An Air India official told the Times of India, “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 do’es and dont’s. It’s not clear why the crew member thought it was okay to take and share pictures.”
“The pictures put on social media show some of the layouts and seats inside the aircraft. Irrespective of how serious the breach is, it’s not something that should have happened,” the official told the newspaper.
Specially retrofitted with the latest self-defense protection suite for VVIP transport duties, the aircraft hosts several security-related features such as hi-tech missile defense protection suites like ‘Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures’.
It had served in the Air India fleet before being flown to a Boeing facility where it underwent major changes. Now it will be operated by the Indian Air force.
It is replacing Boeing B-747 jumbo aircraft, which served for 25 years. Among its many capabilities, the aircraft can fly for over 17 hours without refueling. India had ordered two modified aircraft costing around Rs 8,400 crore, the delivery for second aircraft is not known yet.