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. American Solder

    I bet he will be working at his family ran 7 Eleven store from now on lol

    December 1, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Bervick

      American Solder [sic] : You realize you're just propagating a stereotype, don't you ? And that exists in every society. You also realize that any human can make this mistake, don't you ?

      I will give you this (in case you were to make a reasonable comment / argument ) :
      It was stupid of them not to have the co-pilot prepared for such an emergency. Hopefully a lesson has been learned.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Intellgencia

      Your comment about 7-11 is insulting and ignorant. It shows that your have very little formal education. First of all you, not all Indians own 7-11's or work in them. More importantly, this pilot lives and works >IN< India, not the United States. Your comment is moronic, insensitive, and just plain stupid.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruster

      Note that only 45% of Dairy Queen franchises are owned by Indians. Sorry I don't have the number for 7-11.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • YoHoHo and A Bottle of Rum

      Thanks "Bruster", finally some stats we can rely

      December 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • RM

      Hard working, honest folks aren't they. You jealous of their enterprise and energy?

      December 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yuck

      It would be ok if they would shower once a week at least

      December 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • gcool

      Do u? Fu***** retard.

      December 1, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • troll

      Trying to act like everyone without extensive formal education is somehow ignorant is very elitist of you. Shame.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • edmond

      You're right, some Indians are still in the application process waiting for a position at 7-11.

      December 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mian

      @ edmond < dude u r funny as hell i swear you making me laugh really hard please don't hate indian's "i m not indian" lol

      December 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Indian

      It's better then waiting in a line for a REHAB center. At least it is an honest and hard working living.

      December 2, 2010 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Redneck Sam

      I bet he and his family can spell ..... S O L D I E R

      December 1, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Fire him, he's too stupid.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • NOTfunny

      AIR INDIA owes a plane load of people

      NEW underwear and lunch to say the least!!!!

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

      this is so funny, like a thrill ride, wish i were there

      December 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scullenberger

      Panicked? Yep. Lose the clown.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brett Buck

      Any so-called "pilot" who doesn't know how to pull a plane out of a simple dive should be demoted to baggage handling.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      He certainly is stupid. He needs to be fired before he flies again.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cool Hand

      He was leading that flight that fateful day over Macho Grande'.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      This co-pilot should not be in command of this plane with so little knowlege. How many other unqualified pilots does air indea have?

      December 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • LLinLa

      Geez! The pilot had tons of booklearning with no experience whatsoever. Kind of surprising that being a pilot and being a president is so similar!

      December 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cory

      Are we sure he was not texting and trying to eat at the same time?

      December 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scullenberger

      Sounds like a coverup. Sounds like a coverup!!
      Seats can't bump into the stick. The real pilot probably saved the plane from an early demise at the hands of the copilot as he probably intended to crash it.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeBob

      If only there were some sort of control column to pull back on to pull the plane out of the dive...shame.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • striker

      Over Macho Grande' sir?

      December 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Fire the idiot who certified him ready to fly, without completing education and certification on all emergency scenarios.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve McCroskey

      Ease off, Rex. He hasn't flown for years; it's not his fault. It could happen to any pilot.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leslie

      I just wanted to wish you both good luck. We're all counting on you...

      December 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike G.

      @Brett Buck
      You obviously do not understand the laws of physios. Maybe you should be demoted back to highschool?

      December 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beck

      No, Striker, I'm afraid I'll never get over Macho Grande.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shankar

    Here is a better report from the Wall Street Journal.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Veganistic

      If we wanted a real report, we would not be on CNN, but thanks

      December 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Shneeky

    This happened in May???? Kind of late to be reporting on this isn't it or did I miss something???

    December 1, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan Halen

      Can you not read? There was an inquiry/investigation.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • pt

      Happened in May however the plane probably still smells like a few hundred people panicked for 7000 feet.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ted Striker

    The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.

    This wouldn't have happened if Otto was at the controls.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • suesark

      LOL! There has never been stopping in the white zone!

      December 1, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Chicago860

      This is about the abortion, isn't it.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cool Hand

      We're all counting on you Striker!

      December 1, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Shirley you can't be serious?!

      December 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Over

      Yes, I am serious. And don't call me Shirley!

      December 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jackson

      India Air flight 454 now arriving at gate 12, 13, 14, 15, 16...

      December 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rex Kramer

      Stryker, you're too low!

      December 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ted Striker

    Looks like he picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • oreodunker

      Oh my gawd, I think I pee'd a little! LMAO!!!

      December 1, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • kargo27

      LOL!!!! Good one!

      December 1, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Terry

    In rare instances, a dive such as this can be induced by a Fratistan inversion. Decoupling of the B autopilot system results when an asynchronous GPS interface loop overrides the Fratistan stabilization system resulting in full forward movement of the yoke. Recovery is usually automatic once mach buffet occurs over the wing and/or clacker speed is exceeded by 15%. Had the Captain been aware of this, he could have taken the time to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee prior to hurriedly re-entering the flight deck.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      What he said.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • BuckeyeMatt

      that's just what I was thinking

      December 1, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • kargo27


      December 1, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • bK

      now it all makes sense..

      December 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • danial54

      And that pilot thought he was that co-pilot fixed that..:-O Haaaaaahahaha!

      December 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirk

      You are correct, Terry, but the pilot was probably too scared to let the plane recover by itself. I have seen this demonstrated by a fighter plane, but not yet with an airliner in air-worthiness trials, but I think it would work.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gerky


      December 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • hostile177

      "Usually", unless the plane breaks apart first.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      i don't think it's safe to play a game of 'wait-and-see' when there's over a hundred passengers on board. the plane may have corrected itself when those conditions were met, but the passengers were probably all terrified, and the pilot made the right choice by correcting the situation as soon as he possibly could.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • astounded

      Even Google could not search up the terms... Fratistan inversion... congratulations dude

      December 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yakobi.

      That's true, except when it's a left handed oscillating fratistan inversion.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Lamar

      The same condition can occur if the turbo encabulator is out of adjustment.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      Kirk and Yakobi, your repective aviation and internet knowledge is impressive. You, like myself, obviously have an extensive aviation background both in aerodynamics and the Boeing 737 series aircraft. It is a rare pilot who understands the implications of the Fratistan system.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maverick

      Hi Terry, can you elaborate on what a Fratistan inversion is ??? where can I read more about it ? Thank you

      December 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peacewalker

      True, but this was the more common instance of Oops I bumped the throttle what the sh!# do I do now? co-pilot error.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      Yakobi, the left handed oscillating Fratistan inversion has become far less of a problem since the introduction of the dual channel autopilot systems. Although initial autopilot systems suffered this ailment, dual channel systems or triple redundant systems such as the Boeing 777 have virtually eliminated this fault. As noted by Mr. Lamar, the only recent instances have involved misalignment of the Turbo Encabulator. I suspect this was the first thing maintenance checked upon the aircrafts arrival.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fricsaid

      I'm trying to figure out why you would post such a comment. Well, I'm pretty sure I know, but I will let my humility take over and keep it to myself.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisTalks

      Terry, where can I find more information regarding your comment ? It's a pretty cool but a hidden feature I believe ...

      December 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • 735PiC

      Ha, nice attempt at spreading disinformation.

      What really happened here is that the FO inadvertently turned on the A/P roll and yaw modes and made abrupt changes to the controls without turning off the A/P, causing more unintended control movements. He was not trained for aircraft recovery in A/P mode, only manual mode.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • RachelW

      I can't iterate how much i love this comment and responses. Terry I commend you on your vast knowledge of technology. I'm printing this out and showing the other engineers I work with.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Ha Ha Ha. He said asynchronous, when everyone knows he should have said disynchronous. (lol)
      Actually my grandfather used to have a saying when someone spoke like this. He would simply say "I had one of those once, but the wheel fell off".

      December 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tandberg

      It's all BS, folks.....

      December 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cory

      I thought it might of been the Flux Capacitor going bad.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BryanF

      After this, they will need to replace the differential girdlesprings and the reciprocating dingle arm.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Terry, I agree totally. The flux compasetor was probably being drained at the exact moment when the pilot flushed the comode thus causing an analog on the loop back system to overload the thingamagig causing his seat to inadverdantley to hit the steering column therefore causing the 7,000 feet spiral. My head hurts...

      December 1, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jackson

      This is a possibility, if the retro-encabulator was also set to auto – if that's the case, the modial interaction of magneto reluctance and capacitive duractance between the 2 systems could have caused the dive. Another reason why I've never been a big fan of encabulators designed with pre-famulated amulite and malleable logarithmic casing – such interactions could be avoided with the more modern (but more costly) hydrocoptic marzul vanes...

      December 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andy

    i think he got cold feet in the middle of a poorly planned suicide. people, take note not to leave a note! it's incriminating!

    December 1, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. DP

    This is why you gotta' TSA them pilots in the crotch. Keeps their mind on their business.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Imeldific

    I have credible sources backing up my comment (father is a Boeing flight instructor and commercial pilot for a major asian carrier for 25 years) – keep away from Air India and China Airlines. The pilots have very poor performance records. Stick to what you know – like call centers or designing databases. This is one industry/skill set that doesn't seem to match your strong suit....not for now anyways.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • GrumpyOldMan

      You have clearly never seen a database that was designed in India. Their database designers should stick to flying planes.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Hannibal

      Yeah, and write the books on Database Design that are used in most American universities. But we should be happy, the vast majority of American "computer scientists" are about as smart as the hamburgers that they gorge on at the keyboard.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      That's funny because the last time I looked, India developers largley use tools, languages, computers and operating systems developed by....western "Computer Scientists". Nice try, thank for playing...

      December 1, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotOld

      U really are grumpy and old...

      December 1, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotOld

      U really are grumpy and old

      December 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn

      See my previous comment. They can now only hire Indian pilots. They are not hiring any expats. So DEFINITELY AVOID these carriers!!!!

      December 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sometimes

    if he crashes the plane they will just cut off his arms and he won't be able to fly again. LOL

    December 1, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Banerjee, NYC

      Hey "Sometimes",
      This is regarding an Air India Pilot and not Emirates or any Islamic countries Airliner. Get your General knowledge [or go to Wiki] and facts straight. Indian pilots can simply bribe and get away and there is no such punishment in India that amputates body parts. Indian Penal codes have not changed much since the British left in 1947. Looks like you are one of those morons who thinks Indians are Muslims.

      December 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jen

    I've never flown and always been terrified to. Its stories like this that keep my fear firmly intacted.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • douglas

      That is too bad. There are too many beautiful places all over the world (across oceans), and only one short life. To see them is to have your eyes open.

      December 1, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Sheo

      You are perfectly safe if you travel on the better airlines..British Airways, American Airlines etc.. They are highly selective in their recruitment and train their pilots well. See the world..just not on this airline:-)

      December 1, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      see a therapist.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      "intacted" is not a word.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Justin

    May? This isn't news...its olds. Slow day huh?

    December 1, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      This story is about the results of the investigation not the incident.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. YoHoHo and A Bottle of Rum

    Okay, check it, Habib, after you fix the nose dive make my croissant toasted with butter and coffee with half-n-half and 1 equal....that's 1 equal, not get back to your elephant riding lessons...

    December 1, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. guestcreep

    vud-vud, ding-ding! Thank you for calling tech support.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
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