The Directorate General of Civil Aviation of India (DGCA) is now investigating seven IndiGo pilots for violating the aircraft emergency frequency.
The incident occurred on April 9, 2022, when IndiGo pilots allegedly utilized the 121.5 MHz frequency to express their dissatisfaction with the company’s decision to only partially reinstate pre-pandemic salaries.
ATC monitors the 121.5 MHz frequency, sometimes known as the ‘guard’ frequency, which is only utilized by the flight crew in an emergency.
Air traffic controllers (ATC) were the first to detect abnormalities in pilots’ discipline when using aircraft radio communications, according to the Business Standard, and quickly reported the issue to the DGCA.
IndiGo suspended up to six pilots on April 13, 2022, four days after the incident, for reportedly plotting to strike over the airline’s wage cuts, which had been adopted as one of the numerous cost-cutting measures at the start of the epidemic.
Despite the airline’s recovery to pre-COVID levels, some of IndiGo’s flight crew are disgruntled with the current wage policy, as pilots continue to be paid lower rates.
When employing aircraft radio messages, the airline reminded employees of the key elements of discipline.
A memo sent to staff, seen by the Business Standard, stated: “Radio transmission is one of the measurable parameters of professionalism and discipline in an airline and IndiGo prided itself on being near-exemplary in this aspect. Unfortunately in the recent past, there have been acts of misuse of radio transmission which have been identified and are being suitably dealt with.”
The 121.5 MHz frequency, according to Annex 10 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), “shall be used only for genuine emergency purposes,” including handling of emergencies, air-ground communication with aircraft failure, and actions related to air policing, air interception, and search and rescue operations.
Flight crew members could lose their licenses and face criminal prosecution if the DGCA determines that they misused the frequency.