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.

Post by:
Filed under: Air travel • India • Plane emergency landing • Travel
soundoff (962 Responses)
  1. KingofFlying


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

    Hey Zama,
    The Indian fighter pilots dumped your S*^&^% F-16 fighter pilots you shrek ass. Hope you are not a son of Osama or a Paki.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      Maybe two naps...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      Forget the nap. This guy needs psychiatric medication.

      December 1, 2010 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    If I was on that plane, I would've needed a change of pants.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. me

    so dumb company and co-pilot, he must be banned for driving everything, including a bike or rollerskates!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Peter E

    Accidents are accidents. It was actually dozens of fatal crashes throughout the 20th century that forced many of the designs in modern planes that saved these lives. The fact that planes can now recover from such emergencies is a testament to how far we've advanced. (at the cost of all those thousands of lives lost during the twentieth century with older designs)

    November 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MXD

    "Not only do we need someone who can fly a plane, but who also DIDN'T have curry chicken for dinner."

    November 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingofFlying

      May be someone who ate rocky mountain oysters should be able to fly better. I mean in the air not to Hudson river.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. "Ray"

    I don't know about you but the co-pilot was "25 years old." How much flight experience could this guy really had. But then again maybe he learned to fly in the world renown Indian Air Force!!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheezy

      I don't know, but here in Ohio you can begin flight lessons when you're 14 years old. In fact, you can begin driving at 15 1/5.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingofFlying

      Hi Ray,

      Indian training surprises US
      Maj. Mark A. Snowden, the 3rd Wing's chief of air-to-air tactics and a participant in Cope India 2004, admitted that the US Air Force underestimated the Indians. "The outcome of the [2004] exercise boils down to [the fact that] they ran tactics that were more advanced than we expected," he told Aviation Week last year. "They had done some training with the French that we knew about, but we did not expect them to be a very well-trained air force. That was silly."

      One USAF controller working aboard an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) plane told reporters at Kalaikundi Air Base that he was impressed by the speed in which Indian pilots responded to target assignments given them by AWACS. The AWACS, while operated by Americans, was acting as a neutral party, feeding target assignments to both Indian and American pilots during the exercise. In most cases, the Indians responded to target assignments faster than the American pilots did – a surprising fact, given that this was the first time Indian pilots had used the American AWACS capability.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devin

      See, King? Don't you feel better after a little siesta? You sure communicate better!

      November 30, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phoop

      Any pilot trained by the IAF will not be working for a civilian airline at 25.

      December 1, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • ME

      Even if he started at 18, that is at least seven years of experience. Here in the US, someone with 7 years of college can be a nurse, doctor, lawyer, professor, psychologist, etc. Mental capabilities peak at age 22 and begin to decline at 27. Maybe not all 25 year olds are appropriate potential pilots, but I certainly wouldn't rule them all out based on their age.

      December 1, 2010 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  7. A

    Maybe the co-pilot did his training online between working as a customer rep in one of the call centers in Bangalore

    November 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phoop

      No, he was trained on simulators in the US like those 9/11 pilots!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Perhaps kingoflying you have not heard of american exceptionalism.
    Its states that God has made a special place for us in history.
    What it means in Laymans terms is that we are better at flying and driving.
    So settle down, you guys are way better at meditation and saving cows.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      Obviously God declined to give you a brain – or a heart.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingofFlying

      True you have a special place in History. Better at driving, flying, killing native americans, occupying other countries, enslaving African Americans, trying medicines on poor people in India and other countries, supporting Communist China and the Arabs, creating Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, get your fair share from Vietnam, Somalia, Korea etc... Oh man LOL.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'm Bob and I'm a Racist

      Bob – Like I said to Fred below:

      Apparently this Indian Co-pilot is as good at flying planes as Americans like you are at raising kids.

      Chew on that as you anticipate the day when you or one of your kids will probably end up working FOR an Indian or a Chinese Kid.

      It's not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN.

      We agree on one thing –God Bless America – Just not Bob. He's just a racist Jacka$$.

      November 30, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      This is a silly theory and I suspect the OP is being sarcastic; however, there may be a twinge of truth in here. Many US immigrants are self selecting and we often get the best of the best who want to come here–that is the highly educated and intelligent. Other than illegal immigrants entering through Mexico or Canada, it usually requires a large investment to move to the US and it isn't normally morons who can make it.

      December 1, 2010 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Zama



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

    Hey Zama,
    The Indian fighter pilots dumped your S*^&^% F-16 fighter pilots you shrek ass. Hope you are not a son of Osama or a Paki.
    Hey KingofFlying,
    I am now "Still serving in Afghanistan." Was in Iraq last year!!

    November 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • KingofFlying

      Osama is serving in Afghanistan and he served in Iraq and Pakistan previously.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phoop

      I kicked the ^55 of your F-16s and their "drivers"!

      – SU-30MKI

      November 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    And answering phones.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JQ

    Was the pilot able to finish doing #2 or #1? I'm sure there was no time to wash his hands. Thank God everyone was safe.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • davec

      If he was going #2 the steep plunge quickly finished the job.

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

    and somewhere Leslie Nielsen is laughing........

    November 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jason

    thank you.. come again.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack

    Why lie to passengers about what happened???

    November 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      So they don't freak out and get hysterical, thus making the flight crews' jobs harder?

      December 1, 2010 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. Daryx

    Uh, CNN, the caption under the image says the co-pilot returned from his pee break and saved the flight, but the article says the co-pilot caused the accident and the PILOT saved the flight. If I were the pilot I'd be annoyed by that. Just keeping you on your toes.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34