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. Foo Fighter

    May be another case of fudging the #flying hours ...

    December 1, 2010 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    Perhaps the co-pilot was outsourced?

    December 1, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. MarkyGA

    Sure as hell hope that co-pilot got his pink slip.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. JOE B

    That is an incredible pilot!

    December 1, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Geez

    Maybe he should have called Indian Tech support.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. stasman

    If they can't fix a computer, how can they fly a plane?

    December 1, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. elidude

    Hello, Air India? I'd like to cancel my reservation....

    December 1, 2010 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Caliguy

      you are caller # 10000 in the queue, your approx wait time is .... yet to be determined

      December 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. William

    It's amazing that they have a 25 year old baby flying a plane with so many people in it. I am going to drive more.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Sure

      So you can share the road with 16 year old babies instead.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. stuckinFL

    He should've called customer support. At least he would've gotten someone in his own country.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. sciguy73

    This article is so bogus. There is no way anyone called a 'co-pilot' wouldn't know how to pull a plane out of a dive. As you can see, half the people posting here (and their children) know what to do. How about some investigative reporting CNN? Find out the real story before you post it. I'm tired of reading tripe.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Read a bit more. It's not as easy as pulling back on the stick.

      December 1, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek

      You are assuming that all co-pilots are fully trained the world over.. sorry to break it to you, but they are not.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. Anonymiss

    Where was the pilot? He is just the copilot?

    December 1, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • P@

      Ok... A copilot is still a qualified pilot. They will have less experience then the pilot (captain) but should still be fully trained and licenced as competent to fly that aircraft. In the senario where the more experienced pilot is not able to perform their job the copilot is expected to be able to safely fly and land the aircraft.
      What is reported here could only have happened if the flight deck was vacant, 'child at the controls', 'sleeping pilot' or 'suicidal pilot senario'. Scarey, but all of these have happened before. If there was actually someone awake on the flight deck when this event happened then they were not a qualified pilot. The fact that the more experienced pilot was able to hurry back and stop the decent is fortunate, but they should never have left the aircraft in control with an obviously unqualified pilot. Maintaining straight and level flight is a fundamental piloting basic and is actually so easy and instinctive that even an untrained person can do it.
      All flight crew onboard are responsable for this and should never be able to fly passengers again.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bobington

    I love the comments, simply because people play games they claim to know how to handle a real plane and safely pull it out of a dive. I just love how stupid people are...

    December 1, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Funny

      Coincidently, the game players are correct. I am a pilot and have 'played' that 'game' for many years... it's widely accepted through-out the aviation community as a good training aid.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mac

    From years of piloting Radio Controlled aircraft, the first step is to chop the throttle.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. cleat

    check....air india...dont fly on....

    December 1, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. MumbaiMonty

    We know he will not be reincarnated as a bird...

    December 1, 2010 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
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