Qatar is in the process of amending its commercial aviation law to effectively deal with various types of in-flight violations by passengers.
Smoking, assault or harassment of co-passengers or crew members, drunkenness and disturbing others are some of the common in-flight violations.
Other in-flight acts of criminal nature include damaging the seats or safety or electronic systems of an aircraft and creating chaos to the extent that the pilot has to redirect a flight for emergency landing at the nearest airport.
Incidents of in-flight violence and indecency, including disregard for no-smoking rules, are on the rise worldwide.
In Qatar alone, some 437 cases of such violations by passengers were reported in 2008 by different airlines, including national carrier Qatar Airways.
Of these, 310 cases pertained to excessive drinking and disturbing others and compromising the safety of passengers.
Last year, Qatar Airways reported 402 cases of smoking on its flights and 97 cases of passengers becoming unruly and disturbing others.
Keeping this in view, Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority has proposed amendments to some key provisions of the existing commercial aviation law in a bid to ensure that such violations are dealt with adequately.
Qatar enforced the commercial aviation law (Number 15) in the year 2002 and it needs to be updated because at present a number of in-flight violations reported by various airlines cannot be adequately dealt with within the framework of the existing law.
The international commercial aviation agency has urged countries around the world, including Qatar, to have extensive laws in place to deal with in-flight violations.
The violations include refusal by the passengers to follow the instructions of the crew members to maintain calm and not to threaten the peace and safety of other passengers.
The amendments propose that in-flight violators, if proved guilty by a court, be sentenced to three years in jail or a fine of QR100,000 or both.
The proposals suggest that once the amendments are introduced, attempts to hijack a plane or carry out an act of terrorism would also be greatly reduced.
The Advisory Council held several sessions to deliberate on the proposed amendments, which are likely to be introduced sooner rather than later.
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