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. MadCityBabe

    Air India – about sums it up!

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

      as though its any better here.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kacy

    At least the pilot knew what he was doing.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. jack

    Pulling out of a diver is "flying 101". What's the real story?

    December 1, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. brent

    I will look forward to seeing this episode on "Mayday"...right up there with the pilot who let his 6 year old son "fly" a jumbo into oblivion...true story. I like the episode where black market replacement parts contribute to the crash...that's a confidence builder as well. Seems like most big crashes have an element of human error. mayday mayday

    December 1, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sakura

    Not Sully approved!

    December 1, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. LIZ

    I wont be flowing in India anytime soon.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |

    Do a barrel roll!

    December 1, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ted

    There has to be more to this story, like he was pinned against the yoke or something. Anyone who has more than an hour of flight time knows to pull back to get the nose up, and anyone with a commercial pilot's license (even in India) would know to throttle back first. I'd like to hear the rest of the story and not the simplified CNN version.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Airplane!

    "I flew single engine fighters in the Air Force, but this plane has four engines. It's an entirely different kind of flying... altogether."

    December 1, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sunday flyer

    Being a sometime flyer I am not sure how I would have reacted. He was in a jet and the blood probably rushed to his head. But decreasing thrust and pulling back on the stick should have done the trick if he was thinking clearly. Shouldnt the plane have been on Auto while the Pilot was taking a break??

    I wouldn't want to hear an announcement about flying with a nervous/green co-pilot right after the plane took a 7K dive. How would that be phrased? Ladies and Gentlemen – sorry about ruining your dinner – but my buddy here accidently caused the plane to go into a dive and couldnt quite remember how to get out of it. (chuckle chuckle) We hope that the rest of your flight is without incident, and that you will choose to fly with us again.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Heebee

    The olive from my martini dissolved eventually from
    being imbeded up my nostril.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Evangelicide

    C'mon guys, it's so simple– maybe you need a refresher course.
    It's all ball bearings nowadays...

    December 1, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. jimg45

    Basic flight maneuvers required for private pilots license. If a "pilot" does not know how to recover from a simple dive then the company that hired him should be closed. But then we are talking India. Do they have temp. agencies for their pilots? Why don't they give their temps scripts like they use for tech. support since they work out so well.

    Autopilots are usually engaged except on final approach, and takeoff so did he think that button was the seat adjustment or do they have Chinese built and North Korean installed avionics and flight control systems in their airplanes.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Frank B

    The real question here is: Should third world people be allowed to fly aircraft outside of their own country? I'm reminded of the airliner that crashed into the Atlantic, killing all aboard, after leaving New York a few years ago. The pilot screamed praise allah all the way down.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. wow

    Surely you can't be serious.

    December 1, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
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