Report: Co-pilot moved seat, sent jetliner plummeting
November 30th, 2010
03:31 PM ET

Report: Co-pilot moved seat, sent jetliner plummeting

The co-pilot of an Air India Express 737 sent the jetliner into a terrifying 7,000-foot plunge in May when he accidentally hit the control column while adjusting his seat, investigators report.

According to the report from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the co-pilot panicked and was unable to execute the proper procedures as the jetliner dropped from 37,000 feet at a 26-degree angle. The plane and its 113 passengers were saved when the pilot, who’d gone on a bathroom break, used an emergency code to get into the locked cockpit, jumped back into his seat and grabbed the controls to bring the plummeting plane out of its dive.

The aircraft would have broken apart if the descent had continued, the aviation agency report said. The aircraft was not damaged and no one was injured, the report said.

After the pilot, 39, regained control of the plane, he told passengers, who were in the middle of a meal when the jet plunged, that the plane had “went through an air pocket and that is why there was a rapid descent,” according to the report.

The aviation agency report concluded that the 25-year-old co-pilot had not been trained in the specific scenario the jet encountered and “probably had no clue to tackle this kind of emergency.”

Neither the pilot nor co-pilot were named in the report.

The Air India Express flight was en route from Dubai to Pune, India, on May 25 when the incident occurred.

Post by:
Filed under: Air travel • India • Plane emergency landing • Travel
soundoff (962 Responses)
  1. Maggie

    Passengers should have stayed away from the Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company:

    "Sorry, sir, I can't hear you over the sound of the engines....Oh, good, they've stopped...Mac, the engine's cut out again, try the third button from the left....Now the cabin lights are out, try the third button from the right...." (Bob Newhart's best standup routine!)

    November 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. T

    There is NO WAY a seat can disengage the autopilot, push and hold the yoke full forward against the trim forces for a minute to drop 7000 feet.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentBoy741

      Well, it totally depends on how you've got your flight attendant positioned at the time.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. pilot125

    There is no way just hitting the controls with your foot could do that. this story is bs

    November 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      yes, for sure this is BS.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. T

    Agreed pilot 125, I fly Boeings (not 737s) this was intentional.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tom

    i don't care. i want the one with after burners, i want the blue and yellow one.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave B

    He must have had the fish.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mac

    I'm leavin on a jet plane don't know if ill be back again! la la la la la la la. Come on everybody ! im leavin on a jet plane don't know if ill be back again

    November 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jesse

    First, CNN needs to figure out how to find real commenters vs random crap that most people post here. Think Gizmodo style.

    Second, I have to agree with the people saying that this is fishy. I'd be more easily convinced that the co-pilot did something much less accidentally than what was reported. I find that the Indian culture does not like to point blame and I'm assuming that is tainting the truth here.

    Hope people that fly that airline's tickets buy this story too.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Shrike1964

    That's impossible, they where on instruments!

    November 30, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      What? The stewerdess was on whos instrument?

      November 30, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Where is Leslie Neilson when you need him? And who got the underwear cleaning contract?

    November 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • t o d d

      surely you're not serious?

      November 30, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim


      November 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    Modern commercial airliners have automatic restrictions in place to prevent this from happening. The pilot can't do anything that would stress the aircraft, a 26 degree downbank wouldn't be allowed by the flight computer. While these can be overridden, when the plane is in cruise flight with autopilot on, it should be impossible. The pilot shouldn't be able to affect the planes actions even with autopilot engaged.So clearly something is being omitted here

    November 30, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • pilot125

      Maybe on a fly by wire plane, not a 737, Never heard of any restrictions besides airbus

      November 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pilotguy


      you're clueless... Go back to you're video games...

      November 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dike

    The report also failed to mention the air hostess also was on the same seat when her legs hit the controls

    November 30, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Shrike1964

    Crash Positions!

    November 30, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Greg

    It sounds like they fly planes as well as they drive trucks and buses? IRT!

    November 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob Tickle

    This is my favorite line in the article: "The aircraft would have broken apart if the descent had continued..." Duhhh..... most planes do when they hit the ground.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • peachykeen

      Not in India. They make their planes out of silly putty. They just bounce around.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34