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. f1mktsol

    They should consider outsourcing for pilots.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JR

    Of course he fell asleep, nothing else makes sense, even to a layperson.

    And this is absolutely the best thread that I've read in forever.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Peppy

    Shoulda done a Barrel Roll!

    November 30, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mudda Fugga

    To be on that plane would have made your pucker factor so huge, somebody could drive a truck through your rectum. Really glad I wasn't there.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. radial

    Typical Indian Culture.. hehe maybe the co-pilot was scared to touch the controls without asking the captain.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • radial

      How's unemployment treating you? Bitter much?

      December 1, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Is your comment addressed to anyone in particular?

      December 1, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Mine isn't.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      He can only be fired in India if he actually crashes the plane. He is related to a minister in the government. How else would he have been given a government job. either your related or you pay up.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • TorC

      I think if he crashes the plane he won't need to be fired.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlotte

      @Clint – if he actually crashes the plane they probably won't need to fire him.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • MrShaggyHomelessGuy

      Or maybe he was affraid of going back to work in the call centre and decided to just...end it

      December 1, 2010 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • S.Colbert

      Is slave a job? You know the people that made bricks for 600 hundred years, they count as employed?

      December 1, 2010 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Flightsim Pilot

    Boeing should add envelope protection with auto-throttle into their flight systems..just like AIRBUS.
    Either way, this kid should have practiced on FlightSimX....kill throttle, pull on yoke, let aircraft settle into level flight then carry on...amatuers!

    December 1, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Bluerare

      OK. Thanks God.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • kevikom

      Awesome... statement flightsim! Even my 6 year old know what to do when I told them about this( she does not play FSX)

      December 1, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Great, so when there is a power glitch the whole aircraft loses system after system with a cascading failure, and goes down killing everyone on board over a bad coffee maker like they had a few others do. Keep Airbus, their junk is like a microsoft windows machine with wings only worse. Gives new meaning to "blue screen of death". . And if you do manage to fly one for any period of time... If the tails are not tearing themselves off the engines are blowing apart. Fly Boeing !

      December 1, 2010 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • P. B.

      You're in way over your head here, aside from 737NGs coming standard with A/T there is absolutely no need for envelope protection on any aircraft (777, 787, and Airbus included). Anyway this is what happens when you train people how to fly an aircraft in a simulator and let them fly airliners with 800 hours of total time without getting any "real world" experience prior to getting into a jet.

      And don't worry, it's not just India, most regional airlines (Republic, Pinnacle, Colgan etc. etc.) were hiring pilots as recently as 3 years ago who weren't qualified to pick their own nose.

      December 1, 2010 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • jmax

      I work at CYXU, London, ON, Canada which in the last couple of years has become a training centre for Commercial Pilot candidates from both India and China. There is a widespread lack of effort and cheating in the area of study, a hurried atmosphere in the flight portion. After 200-300 hours, they go home to a right seat job in a jet. It would not surprise me in the least if I know this copilot. I will not fly or allow my family to fly any airlines from those two nations for this exact reason.

      December 1, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LameSkyWalker

      I can picture the Pilot hopping down the isle from the back of the plane with his pants around his ankles trying to reassure people that everything was fine. LOL Ewe, I wonder if the Pilot washed his hands?

      December 1, 2010 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SK

      perhaps the 'Easy "A"' school you seem to be working at needs to tighten things up. If they are shipping kids from the other side of the planet for a paper mill, somebody should be scratching their head.
      Isn't London, ON in the Toronto Metro area? nice. I'm thinking a better place for thes stickjocks are a less populated area. Like Northern Alberta.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Commercial Student

      You dont need to be in a 737 to know how to pull out of a dive.........guess they dont teach spins and spiral recovery during the training process in India.......kinda lame

      December 1, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. CommonSense

    Uhhhhhhh.....pull stick back, level plane, thrust good. 3 YO knows this.

    December 1, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Brett

      Ummm, your 3 yo just ripped the wings off .... (throttle to idle first)

      December 1, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • TX pilot

      What happened to level trim setting??

      December 1, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      Pulling back at a the speed that they were at after a 7,000 food dive would have most likely caused a structural failure of the wings. This plane is not a fighter jet capable of double digit G maneuvers. Remind me not to fly with you or your three year old.

      December 1, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • SKSK

      Yep....that much force would definitely destroy the wings unless you throttled back.

      December 1, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. Rob P.

    I can't believe how funny this has been. Thanks to all. Even you Shirley.

    December 1, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      You're welcome. And please don't call me surely.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Hmmm

      One of the best dead-pan comedy lines ever. Thanks Leslie Nielsen....

      December 1, 2010 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. james

    wow... incredible! As a copilot flying a jet with 113 lives on board he/she should know what to do in this situation. That is the basic of of all basics flight controls.what would happen if the pilot did not managed to get back inside to correct the situation?would the copilot sit there and do nothing like a scared little kid?At such an "aggressive" angle the plane could have broken apart in mid-air before it hit the ground. Maybe he was searching for the flight manual??

    December 1, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      He was so scared he was slipping in his own feces. So he needed to change his shoes and socks.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Amuthan

      Co-Pilot would have 'Bought' a degree from a University 🙂

      December 1, 2010 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Kurt

      As I like to say "he had the rest of his life to figure it out."

      December 1, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. jryan

    What an idiot.

    December 1, 2010 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Sounds like a compliment to him.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Incredible Indyeah!

    'Mera Bharath Mahan'

    Proudly India 🙂

    December 1, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • MrShaggyHomelessGuy

      So your proudly annoying????

      December 1, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. JimmyTheSaint

    The Indian DGCA (Gov't Dept responsible for air transport regs) has been trying for 3 years to get rid of ALL ex-pat pilots on Indian registered aircraft and have stated (again) that by end of 2011 there will be NO non-Indian pilots allowed to fly Indian reg'd aircraft which includes all commercial airliners. it really the kids fault or the fact that a commercial carrier is being pressured by the gov't to hire the absolutely miminal qualified pilot to fly the right hand seat as long as he's a national? You will want to think about that next time you need to fly in or out of India.

    December 1, 2010 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Henk in Colorado

      This has been happening here with US jobs for years: only hire people from India. There's nothing different here.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      You are spot on. That is exactly what the Indian govt has been saying. All expat pilots out by 2011. If an Indian takes anyone else's job that's fine but when it comes to giving back. They will even embarrass a Jew with their miserly conduct. They dont call us "INDIAN GIVERS for no reason. That is just the shameful truth about Indian people . Take , Take, Take or beg. Then bite the hand that has fed them.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek

      Ex-pats practically built many of the worlds foreign airlines only to be thrown out at some later point.

      December 1, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lulu

    wow. it's a good thing the pilot was probably used to eating Indian food or else he might have been in the bathroom a little longer.

    December 1, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Hitler

      haha so true

      December 1, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Darshi

      Thanks for that laugh – I needed that!

      December 1, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • TPC

      I actually laughed so hard at that comment that stuff came out of my nose...

      December 1, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      HAHA good call buddy. That made my morning...

      December 1, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lulu

    i had no idea a 25-year-old could ever be put in charge of a jetliner even for a moment. he was born in the mid-80s. wasn't that like yesterday? god help us all...

    December 1, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • ontheroadagain

      well... he wasn't supposed to touch anything.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Chad

    Scary! real scary who fly AI. Hope this brings some safety training for pilots.

    December 1, 2010 at 1:33 am | 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