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. doozie

    Was the co-pilot's name Erkel?

    November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Did I do that?

      November 30, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dandemain

    The passengers were eating a meal when this happened. Bet there was curry and naan on the ceiling!

    November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bill

    But he never said "I put all my trust in Allah" so the CVR didn't bother to record the incident. Allah is also a keyword the Internet spies look for to start investigating. I try to say bomb;radioactive or body count in every phone call I make just to keep them busy.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeepers


      November 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. truthinrock

    There's a thrill ride for ya.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |

    Was his name Frank Abagnale?

    November 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheezy

      From what I understand, even Abagnale would not have sent an airliner into a nosedive.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Well...

    Hadn't been trained for it???? One more reason I ain't flying ANYWHERE.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MD

    Air India has such a bad track record...

    November 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dr. Benjamin Moriarity

    For the most part i have been reading CNN every morning for a number of years,and enjoying it, but please do you guys ever proof read your stories. The story line says the Pilot returned, the tag line on the above pix stated the Co-pilot returned.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      I am no fan of CNN, but I do believe that perhaps YOU need to proofread your post.

      December 1, 2010 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dave the welder

    This guy makes B.P. appear compentent.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheezy

      NOTHING makes BP look competent, sorry.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. heavenleighmoon

    wonder if the pilot got blue stuff all over his butt trying to get out of the john?

    November 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Faintraining


      November 30, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      Next to the Airplane movie references, this is the funniest comment on the thread! Thank you!

      November 30, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ronama

    Don't worry it's just a matter of time before regional airlines in the U.S find yet another way to cut costs by having talented minimum wage earning pilots like that flying your family around.....not that they don't already make minimum wage.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • packrfan

      Regional airline pilots do not make minimum wage so stop with the fearmongering already. While "rookie" first officers probably only make $15-20 per hour, it's certainly not minimum wage. And what does wage have to do with anything? Most pilots I know chose the profession because they love to fly. I'm not saying they'd do it for minimum wage, but like most careers, you pay your dues early and eventually earn more $$ as you gain experience.

      November 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fatsopilot

      Pilots getting paid $18 an hour is basically minimum wage considering many only get paid at 70 hours a month. You do the math. At first year pay a family of two qualifies for food stamps and welfare.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      I used to know a private pilot who made nearly $200k a year and lived in a million dollar home by the time he was in his very early 30's. He wasn't even intelligent and his wife was a total airhead. If that's minimum wage, sign me up!

      December 1, 2010 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. tomcat

    at least there was no levars to release the engines. now that would have been real bad.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tomcat

    i need a slushie

    November 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    The co- pilot should have been experience enough to put out of that situation, the co-pilot need to go back to flight school. It would have been bad if the Captain was incapacitated and the plane was left in the co-pilot's hands.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      The Pilot was basically incapacitated. He was in the, uh... Well, he was in the you...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fred

    If you've ever watched Ice Road Truckers where they drive trucks through India, getting on one of their airplanes would be the last thing you'd want to do!! Most Indians apparently have no business behind the wheel of anything with a motor in it.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'm Fred and I'm a Racist

      Apparently India Co-pilots fly planes like some Americans raise their kids.

      There – I said it. Fred – wake up dude. You can make yourself feel better by making fun of entire other cultures, but your kids will end up working for Indian kids some day, and then you can sit back and re-read your racist comments and lament that instead of wasting your time here you could've done something positive to make America better.
      Incidentally, I was born in India but I am FIRST an American Citizen. My daughter bakes pies for veterans on Memorial Day to honor them, and my son is a successful Neurosurgeon.

      As an Indian-born American I say God Bless America but not Fred. He deserves to live somewhere very poor for a very long time to understand humanity.

      You can go back to your anonymous ranting now. I honestly hope your kids prove me wrong and end up very successful btw. They've been dealt a bad hand in life with a "dad" like you – hopefully they will overcome that misfortune.

      November 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
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