Việt Nam’s aviation authorities decided Friday to fine two pilots and suspend them for one month for taking photos with a former tourism envoy in the cockpit during a Việt Nam Airlines international flight last month.
Nguyễn Trọng Thắng, a chief inspector at the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV), told Tuổi Trẻ that Nguyễn Ngọc Như ý, the captain, has been fined VND7 million (US$333), and Ý is not allowed to use his pilot license for a month following that violation of aviation safety rules.
Ý’s deputy Nguyễn Xuân Hải has been required to submit a VND3 million ($143) penalty, Thắng said, adding that a one-month suspension has also been imposed on Hải’s license.
Kỳ, 31, is pictured with Ý’s deputy Nguyễn Xuân Hải
The chief flight attendant, Lâm Quang Tiến, is now subject to VND750,000 ($36) in fines for his involvement in this incident.
Tiến is banned from serving on flights in the next one month as well.
Several photos which have recently surfaced online show Lý Nhã Kỳ, a famous 31-year-old actress, model and businesswoman who served as Việt Nam’s Tourism Ambassador between September 2011 and September 2012, posing with the captain and his deputy on the latter’s chair, and hugging two flight attendants in their cabin aboard the Airbus 321.
Kỳ had asked to take the photos and Tiến successfully managed to seek approval from Ý, according to a CAAV investigation.
The main pilot and his deputy then decided to take part and took turns taking pictures with the woman as well.
The CAAV said that these acts threatened the safety of the flight, especially when the plane had already reached cruising altitude.
A male flight attendant and Kỳ show the victory hand signals together
A CAAV leader added that allowing an unauthorized person into the cockpit during a flight is a rule violation.
It is especially serious in this case as the person sat on the vice captain’s chair, he added.
A Việt Nam Airlines spokesperson said that the national flagship carrier has no prior knowledge of this incident and is still waiting for official reporting from its staff.
A separate investigation will follow, the spokesperson added.