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. Chris

    You know what's worse than an "air pocket?" Those pesky vacuum pockets.

    December 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steven

    FYI The picture you have here is of an Airbus and not a Boeing 737.

    December 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Savio

    It doesn't require training to pull back on the column! The autopilot would have disengaged when he touched the column(it happens on some planes) but the copilot would have just needed to pull back.
    I wonder what he was doing? Waiting for the pilot to return or going through airplane manuals!!!

    December 5, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. sweetsweetback

    I'm no expert, but isn't that an airbus in the photo, not a boeing?

    December 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RebelJohnny

    I see a lot of people posting here during the 9-5 workday. I just can't imagine why US outsources to India.

    December 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dale

    25 Years OLD?!?

    December 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    Only one person has made reference to this and I agree. Is it not entirely possible this was done on purpose as a terrorist act? The pilot was gone using the bathroom ( opportunity ) and the co-piot just happened to A) have an accident while the pilot was gone, B) just happened to have no clue what to do C) didn't call for help. A few more seconds and even the Magi couldn't save them

    December 9, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. drinky

    ummmm...back to flight school?

    December 10, 2010 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian Frederick

    This story has already run, why are they running it again? and again? and again?

    December 18, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan

    Find an accurate picture CNN! This is an Airbus, not a Boeing 737.

    December 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Danno

    Did anyone notice the picture of the airplane is NOT a 737 but a large Airbus, makes me wonder what other facts the writer got wrong

    December 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Danno

    Maybe we should buy this captain a slurpy !

    December 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. zzzplt

    If true, indeed the pilot was in the most advantageous position for such a manuver being executed. I'm sure there was a line afterwards.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eric

    I used to work at a flight school that trained students that were to go on to air india....... Most had no intrest in learning to fly just sent over on their parents dime, would stay out till 4am and come in for a 7am lesson and so on guys with 100+ hrs without being able to solo usually would try to kill me on landing. Now this isn't all of them but it was the majority it scares me to think that some of the party guys might be responsible for the lives of all those people.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alex steenkist

    how can a copilot "NOT" know that you pull the yock back ssshhheeessshhh!

    December 25, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
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