Air France caught in cockpit 'risky pix' storm

11th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 11 (AFP) - Two French pilots' unions have demanded an official investigation by the country's flagship carrier Air France into what they said was a company website that incited its pilots to take in-flight photos for Internet display, including during take-off and landing.

PARIS, Feb 11 (AFP) - Two French pilots' unions have demanded an official investigation by the country's flagship carrier Air France into what they said was a company website that incited its pilots to take in-flight photos for Internet display, including during take-off and landing.

 The site, Division A 320 Air France, was abruptly shut down late Tuesday following the broadside by the unions, who charge that it was part of Air France's official Internet domain - an allegation firmly denied by Air France.

The site "keenly encouraged the crew on board to take in-air photographs during all stages of the flight, including the critical phases", charged the Alter union and the Air France Pilots Union (SPAF).

An Air France pilot asked to comment on the website photos told AFP one of the photographs "was taken at 740 feet, or only 200 meters in altitude".

"If at that moment, a pilot was given orders to open the throttle or there was a sudden gust of wind, what would he do then?," the pilot said.

"When you're getting a plane to take off, your job is not to take photos. The law forbids us to do anything else during take-off or landing," he added.

In a letter Tuesday to Jean-Cyril Spinetta, the Air France chairman, the unions said: "This incentive was spelled out on the Internet site of Division A 320, www.a320af.com."

"It is incomprehensible that such irresponsible behavior could have seen the light of day and at such high levels of the company hierarchy," they said.

"You don't go around clicking your camera when you're supposed to be holding onto the controls of an airplane," SPAF union president Gerard Marquaille said.

The company has declined to say whether Air France was behind the website's closure.

"It is not an official Air France site. This is an individual initiative that we disapprove of totally," the press office said late Tuesday, refusing to confirm or deny whether any pilots had taken photos during flights.

The two unions said they got a notary to confirm the website's content and were filing formal complaints with Air France's safety and accident commissions.

The scandal has erupted as Air France is basking in the success of clinching agreement on a merger with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which would create the world's biggest airline in terms of sales.

European Union sources said the European Commission was expected Wednesday to approve the deal, which was due to be finalised by mid-2004.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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