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.

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Filed under: Air travel • India • Plane emergency landing • Travel
soundoff (962 Responses)
  1. Shock A Zulu

    they need to fire the damn autopilot & make the captain wear a diaper!

    November 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lewy

    This is exactly what happens when you fly third-world airlines.

    November 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aviator

      For a $10 cheaper fare, I bet you'll fly any airline.

      December 2, 2010 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. l dresdner

    So, yes since the cost of obtaining that type of pilots license is in the 2 million, most pilots come from military and cannot afford to panic and do not. In our country they are usally a bit older since they have to contribute 6 years post college. We don't usually hear of this sort of mayhem in the u.s.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. what ever

    HOLY CRAP.....! "The co-pilot didn't know what to do".?? HOLY-CRAP.!
    I never flew a jetliner, but have flown FAA part 135 cargo in turboporps (ALONE, NO co-pilot) and I KNEW WHAT TO DO when an Emergency developed.!

    I hope people of the WORLD will AVOID this airline like the PLAGUE.!

    They must have the record of the LEAST TRAINING provided to their flight crews.!

    Again......."HOLY-CRAP".... He didnt know what to do.???!

    November 30, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      It's really not complicated: he fell asleep.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dike

      Hmm you flew alone??? holy crap.. what if you have a heart attack.....

      December 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wow

    How did I know this wasn't an American jet, when i read the headline?

    November 30, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      The only thing better about American pilots (so far) is that when they catch some zzzzs, they don't bump off the autopilots.

      November 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrey Abutin

    Huge respect to the captain for not only handling the situation the way only a great captain would but also keeping the passengers from panicking after the fact!

    November 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lackanookie

    For gods sake people.. He was giving Leslie Neilson his deserved tribute!

    November 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt2

    I am a dentist, a fireman, and a world champion cup-stacker and this story is not rubbish!!!

    November 30, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • peachykeen

      Well, I am a brain surgeon. I can attest to the fact I removed that co-pilots brain just before the's not his fault.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. l dresdner

    hey alansmithee, this was not even close to the same thing. I know this for a fact. This TWA incident was a clear malfunction of the aircraft.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. uncommonscents

    The real story just in from WikiLeaks:
    Joey: Wait a minute. I know you. You're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers.
    Joey: I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense.
    [Kareem's getting mad]
    Joey: And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try... except during the playoffs.
    Roger Murdock: [breaking character] The hell I don't! LISTEN KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John14

    The real story is being missed here. In many countries ciivilian aviation always has been smaller than military aviation until recently. The number of flights and India and several other countries has grown ten fold in just a few years. No matter how poorlly Indian airlines have been run in the past, the pilots have always been good as they have worked in an air force which has been actively deployed several times in the last 50 years. Now for the first time civil aviation is booming and the airforce is shrinking (or they are using more missles and drones) to do what pilots did before. There is a global shortage of air-force pilots. I bet the pilot was an ex- India air force and the co-pilot went to some rinky dink training school in the US. He probably passed the technical exams but didnt have any emergency time under his belt. I've always said – I dont care how easy it is to fly a modern jetliner; the reason we should pay pilots well is for those once in thousand situations where you dont follow the manual.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Safron

    Please sir, what this have to do with death of beloved Princess?

    November 30, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    And these guys complain that they have to go through TSA screening. Sounds like both should have to submit to a drug and alchol screening... Fools.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Puffwagon

    Third world pilots. Gotta luv em.

    Holy mackerel my friend.. what is it doing now !??

    November 30, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TexasVet

    I am a truck driver. I am a 9th grade graduate and I am Batman. I say this story is absolutely true.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
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