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. krazy

    They still serve meals on Indian Airlines? Kool. I bet they don't charge for luggage either.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Crispix

    A 26 degree angle? That must have seemed like a straight down plunge to the death for the passengers. Lucky no one had a heart attack. I think take-off angles are normally ~10-15 degrees, and those feel steep!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. panzerkom

    [quietly puts another airline on the no-fly list] uh... didn't he learn how to pull up in flight school?! in fact, wouldn't the aircraft's automated system start repeating "PULL UP! PULL UP! PULL UP!" when he sent the plane into a steep dive?

    November 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • EWGuy

      I'm not a pilot, but even I know how to pull up out of a dive. What was this guy's problem? Other than being completely worthless in a crisis, of course...

      November 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ajk68

    I've read on other sites that the co-pilot continued to push the nose down even after the pilot had returned and was trying to pull the nose up. It sounds to me like the co-pilot was trying to crash the plane. This whole accident story is a cover-up. It's inconceivable that the co-pilot didn't know what to do or was that panicked. This story is in need of some real investigative journalism.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Mammal

      good point

      November 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MicheleG

      You make an excellent point. I agree.

      November 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I am not the conspiracy theory type, but I agree, this story sounds a bit fishy. Why would the co-pilot push his seat back while the pilot was in the loo? There is no legitimate reason I can imagine. When the co-pilot is in the control position, he needs his seat forward. This does sound like a coverup for a failed terrorist attempt.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John Mammal

    Slow news day? Look at the last line: "The Air India Express flight was en route from Dubai to Pune, India, on May 25 when the incident occurred." I can't wait to read tomorrows news about the car crash that happened in 2008...

    November 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MicheleG

    Hard to believe that the equivalent (if there is one) of the FAA in India would not REQUIRE proper and FULL training for ANYBODY who goes onto the flight deck of a commercial air liner. The expectation would be (and is here) that the person is REALLY QUALIFIED to fly the aircraft in all conditions and with full training in how to handle a pretty full gamut of emergencies. (But do we expect too much from their organization? I think not.)

    November 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Unbelievable

    The Air India Express flight was en route from Dubai to Pune, India, on May 25 when the incident occurred.

    what, this happened in May and we just know about it now, ???
    guess the media is too busy follow Palin and her minions

    November 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MicheleG

      Unbelievable – true. Seems like an odd and overlong delay in this getting out. But they probably tried to keep it private, not surprisingly.

      November 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      Oh good grief. In case you haven't noticed, Obama is in the news pretty much every day as well.

      December 1, 2010 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Zama

    What do you expect from an India trained "Pilot."
    Zama
    HS-125/B-727/B747

    November 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brett

    Umm, pull back on the stick? That emergency maneuver?

    November 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • gman

      It's called a yoke. But I get what you're saying.

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

    he was probably pushing out some bad air and not moving the seat as they say 🙂

    November 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mark

    This is why I don't fly. Scares the hell out of me. I guess I'm a control freak :).

    November 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • davec

      No, you aren't a control freak. You're a girly-man, plain and very simple.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KingofFlying

    "Bob"
    Indians can't drive cars here either.

    Hey Boob if someone lands on Hudson river he is a hero. You f@#$%^& morons does'nt have any sense or exposure to other cultures and you are talking S*(&^ as if you are the greatest creatures in the worls you ass wiping, tree killing junkies.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      Hey King, all I'm sayin' is that one of us needs a little nap...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Raptor

    Considering how pilots here slept through their final destination and overshot by 2 hours, this doesn't seem like a big deal....Apart from a deep stall, any other mistake at 37,000 can be rectified before it gets dangerous....

    November 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Thank God United/Continental airlines have the best well trained pilots in the World, I hope they aren't recruited by India.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. FamousReader

    Some kids like to pee their names into the snow in wintertime......Chuck Norris can pee his name into concrete.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
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