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. Chuckl

    It would be interesting if either of these pilots are involved in the recent Indian goverment investigations regarding Indian airline pilots who "purchased" licenses and lied about flight time logged.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ron

    As I said before, all this airport security, vitual strip searches, feel ups, pat downs, is going to save you not even 1 in a million times, pilot error, mechanical malfunction, and weather will kill you far more easily & frequently.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve

    I don't think people really needed another reason to avoid flying air india..

    November 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Harold

    Be sure to change your own diaper before assisting others...

    November 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jmiker

    Sad, scary, but at the same time, I CANNOT stop chuckling!!!!! OMG, this definitely wins the "You just can't make this s**t up" certificate for this month!

    November 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Phewp

    I bet there was a lot of brown on that plane, and I don't mean Indians.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phoop

      With people in panic mode, I guess that would have turned white. White like people of your kind put out!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 6 Miles High

    Good thing the pilot wasn't hitting on that cute stewardess at the time.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Solei

    I'm from the Church of Lunar Consciousness and will pray that pilot learns how to correctly pilot an airplane.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    No Air India for me, period!

    November 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. doodads

    Geez, what an idiot. Everyone knows you just go full power, put down the landing gear, and bank 45 degrees right.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      LOL funny

      November 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |

      And forcibly send most of the passengers to the back of the plane so that the nose will be up !!!


      November 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevejamesgang

      Copilot was also supposed to get off that "rubber doll" before banking...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pt

      Sounds like the co-pilot either was getting some action @ 37000 ft OR it was a cool prank on the Pilot in the bathroom !!!!

      November 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Wow, you're so cool.

      November 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • douglas

      No no no, he was getting a BJ from his Otto doll (think Airplane!) when Otto's head hit the column. Bad Otto...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rudy

      pulling out of a dive, getting out of a stall... basic stuff for any pilot.

      November 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • nakedGun

      surely you can't be serious?

      November 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • rudy

      to the right? depends on the rotation of your rotary engine. dont pups go one way and spads go the other? i forgot.

      November 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sniderjd

      You have a few things wrong here...plane is in a dive, so why would you add power to further more increase the speed? They said the plane would have broken apart had the dive continued so im gonna assume there was plenty of speed. Also, if the speed would have been adequate enough to tear the plane apart, what good would be done by putting the gear down? They'd certainly shear off. Not sure bout the 45 degree angle thing, that may be the only correct procedure you've suggested. Keep studying kiddo

      November 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • TooFunny

      Must have seen the ugly thing with 16 hands that indians worship

      November 30, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JollyD

      "I AM serious and stop calling me Shirley!"
      Now you said something about snakes on the plane?!
      Was it a Trouser Snake?

      Roger and Owwwwwwt!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • brat

      Where was Otto Pilot? RIP Leslie Nielson!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • brat

      I am serious! And stop calling me Shirley!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • CT

      Aircraft should have been trimmed for level flight before engaging autopilot. So if accidentally disengaged the pitch change should have been minimal. Somewhat really happened??

      November 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Akhil

      Looks like you are a trained pilot... Ahem! What about the strain on the air frame when the aircraft drastically attempts to correct the flight path? Thank god I will not fly when you are at controls. It's easy to criticize and jump to conclusions when you do not have to face the consequences. I think the error is he was not fully trained but handed the controls, even if secondary command.

      November 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Reminds me of Customer Support, how would anything else be different 🙂

      November 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Hartman

      "surely you can't be serious?"

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

      November 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TX pilot are clueless ..that's not my problem. Go take a flying lesson before shooting your mouth off and thanking god.

      November 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jenny

      This happened May 25th and it's just being reported Nov. 30th???

      November 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    I would just like to say that I am a commercial pilot, I am a writer, I am an aerospace engineer and this story is complete rubbish.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      I agree!

      November 30, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tha jerm

      And why is that? You spent almost your entire post telling us how qualified you are to make such an assessment and then never bothered to say anything coherent.

      November 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevejamesgang

      Matt....I bet you are also unemployed and tell people you are and airplane cun-so-lent-er...

      November 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramesh

      I was in India during when this was happened. Yes, it was true. We heard from media that there was a air packet, due to which it descent 7000 ft so fast.

      November 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gil

      @Matt....heh heh.....and I'll bet you stayed at a Holiday Inn last night!

      November 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      Please elaborate.

      November 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antlers

      Paaaaaaaaaaaalease. An engineer and a pilot. You probably work at McDonalds. Now get off of your boss's iPhone and tend to the drive thru!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JollyD

      This link has a more technical explanation of what may have happened.,17785/

      November 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • CT

      Yeah...what happened to the a/p disengage alarm?? 25 years old huh? Probably paid $15K/year to fly the right seat. Kids!

      November 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SilentBoy741

      I would just like to say that I am the world's strongest handsome neurosurgeon millionaire. And thanks to anonymity on the internet, I can!

      November 30, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonny Appleseed

      I was on this flight and crapped my pants!

      December 1, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rex Kramer

    Striker, listen, and you listen close: flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Splinter48708


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


      November 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ashefantastic


      November 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. luvlar

    @ Matt, I'm none of those but I thought the same thing after I read it. Plane in a nose dive and the co-pilot didin't know what to do? I don't buy it either.

    November 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      You better do, that how licensing works there, you know what India CPA is, dont mix it up with USA CPA, its a 2 years diploma like a AA certificate, must be a CPA pilot...

      November 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Elaine Dickinson

    There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

    November 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jive Lady

      Jive Lady: He said that he's in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
      Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I'll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
      Jive Lady: [to the Second Jive Dude] Jus' hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da' rebound on da' med side.
      Second Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
      Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da' help!
      First Jive Dude: Say 'e can't hang, say seven up!
      Jive Lady: Jive ass dude don't got no brains anyhow! Hmmph

      November 30, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      No s***. As a pilot, I find this story complete nonsense. Not trained to recover from a shallow dive? Reduce power, pull back gently on the stick. Anyone who can't do that should be in the passenger section. So, there must be more to this.

      November 30, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ang

    Sounds like a scene from a Leslie Nielson movie. RIP Leslie

    November 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spinbani


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

      RIP Leslie. I am sure he was there in spirit. I wonder who deflated the inflatable co-pilot??? =)

      November 30, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • leebo

      I'd just like to let You know Striker ,We're all pulling for You

      November 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
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