The extraordinary incident in the cockpit of an Airbus A320 is said to have taken place on a flight from Geneva to Paris.
The pilot and copilot are said to have collided shortly after takeoff as the plane got higher and higher. One of the men is said to have punched or “beaten” the other, causing them to hold each other by the collar.
Members of the cabin crew heard a commotion and intervened to defuse the altercation. A cabin crew member spent the rest of the flight in the cockpit, according to the French newspaper La Tribune.
The incident happened in June and is under investigation. Air France told LA Tribune that the two pilots are waiting to hear what action can be taken against them.
But a spokesman for the French national airline emphasized that the safety of the flight was not compromised. The spokesperson described the alleged behavior as “totally inappropriate”.
Air France confirmed there was a “dispute” involving an exchange of “inappropriate gestures” during the Airbus A320 incident last June.
But it said the “incident ended quickly without affecting the behavior or safety of the flight that was continuing normally”.
The pilots have been suspended while under investigation, according to a report by the French Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Agency.
Failures involving pilots or cabin crew are rare, but not unheard of.
In 2018, two Iraqi Airways pilots were suspended after hitting a food tray at 37,000 feet.
The jet was en route to Baghdad from Mashhad, Iran, when it ended in chaos as the captain and first officer scrambled into the cockpit.
The plane, with 150 passengers on board, landed safely.