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. Dr. Rumack

    I am serious and don't call me Shirley.

    RIP Leslie!

    December 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ellen O'Day

    I flew Air India from Bangalore to Delhi and never have I encountered such a disgusting, filthy airline. India should be ashamed of such an organization. And now we learn that some of the pilots are incompetent too. Ugh, never again.

    That said (as a Westerner) other airlines in India are completely different. Kingfisher, for example, has world class service and is a very nice airline by international standards.

    December 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • YoHoHo and A Bottle of Rum

      They fly planes and make delicious beer? interesting....maybe that was the

      December 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Linda

    He should have practiced on MS Fs9! I fly and dive all the time on those planes maybe he could have learned from there how to do it by himself at home after all isn't MSFT XP uncrashable?

    December 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. USMCFlyr

    I'm not buying it.... first, I still can't figure out how a 737 can go from cruise flight to 26-degree pitch down "accidentally." I mean he could've been doing the Macarena in there and still not bump into enough knobs to just instantly send the thing plummeting into a 26-degree dive. Second, I had student pilots who knew how to pull out of a dive during their very first "discovery" flight (pull back and the houses get smaller, push forward and the houses get bigger). There's something they're not telling... the flying public may buy it, but to anyone with an ounce of aviation experience this sounds like someone in India is covering something up.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mok

      I have no doubt they're hiding something. No airline company is prepared for the consequences of a downed plane and they are probably panting from how lucky they were that this plane and its passengers and crew survived. Maybe there were some "mile high" activities in the cabin and one of the flight attendants got a little crazy and knocked the controls forward.

      December 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aviator7

    Be awhile before that first officer (co-pilot) makes captain! At least three (3) refresher courses in uncoupling an encapsulated inverted reverse oscillating fratistan.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. prieska

    It wouldn't surpirise me if something similar happen to the South Africa Airways.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cbean45

    What's his name and religion ?

    December 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Singh

    This is not the first or last story ascribed to Air India. Passenger those who has travelled on Air India has lot worst to tell including me. Shame on the operator and the committe who wants to hide the truth and does not want to publish the name of the crew.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    It's Bush's fault.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Johan

    WikiLeaks has a job for the co-pilot.... His future is already in a nose dive to oblivion.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeb

    I think the copilot forgot to use the little tube to blowup the autopilot a little more.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. YoHoHo and A Bottle of Rum

    Yeah, soooooo right "LLinLa"...cause if he's not qualified, I'm sure Ms. "I can see Russia from my backyard" is. Right? Knucklehead. Go dive an Air India jet, why dontcha....

    December 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Puzzled

      Ok – maybe a little help here? I don't see how Tina Fey is really relevant to your discussion? Admittedly she's pretty good on Saturday Night Live, but why are you quoting a comedian?

      December 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Thankfully, I have no need to fly on their aircraft.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jou

    This guy must be as klutzy as Cramer!

    December 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Theodore the Great

    They lost me at Air India. Non-trained "pilot". Wow. Have you seen the roads? Enough said.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
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