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. Brett

    I am a pilot and it is sad what the airlines are doing to get the worst and most inexperienced pilots out there. The days of good pay and honor in being a pilot are over. Many of these young pilots are fresh out of school and paid minimum wage (literally).

    November 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Otto

    Listen up folks, I was trained to be a plane-whalla but in an emergency situation; I remain in regular mode. No need to panic, we are just going down faster and at a steeper angle.

    November 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Splinter48708

    Surely, you can't be serious?!

    Yes, I'm serious, and don't call me Shirley!

    November 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RkyMtnMan

    A 25 year old co-pilot without a clue. That's a novel concept! Most 25 year olds are pretty ignorant outside of their formal training. If he hadn't been trained to pull the plane out of an uncontrolled dive, that's a major error on the part of the airline. We have USAF pilots younger than that flying high performance jets that could do the manuever. But they've been trained.

    November 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jet Lee, NYC

      Not Apple to Apples. You must try to compare to an Indian Airforce Pilot. Indian Airforce Pilots have more recent Dog Fight experiences against US made Pakistani Airforce flown jets during Indo-Pak war.
      Any Air Force pilot of any any country can do that manuevre. But Commercial planes wont accept Fighter type quick responses. Try it out in Microsoft Flight Simulator. But how much flying hours experince can a 25 year old acquire even if he is a Air Force retired [or fired may be]. Any thing [faking resume] can happen in India as it is one of the most corrupt nations.

      December 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harold K.

    As an experienced pilot, I have to say

    November 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Splinter48708

    [Stewardess] "Put the mask over your face and breathe normally."

    [George Carlin] "I always breathe normally when I'm in a 450 Mile Per Hour vertical dive. I also normally...RIGHT IN MY PANTS!!!!!"

    November 30, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Amber

    Cue to the scene where Elaine "blows" the inflatable auto-pilot

    November 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marc

    "Surely", this wouldn't have happened if Leslie Nielson were at the helm!

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

      Don't call me Shirley.

      November 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bud

    I've had Captains/1st Officers both tell me that I should always tell the Stew that there's another pilot onboard. You may not know how to fly the plane but you can make radio contact and be talked down. Always let them know if you're truly a pilot, even a private pilot. You may be the only one onboard with knowledge to save people, yourself included. I'm a Fixed/Rotor CFI.

    November 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • pilot125

      I don't need a back seat driver, any experienced pilot could land a plane single pilot if something happened to the other pilot.

      November 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lemark Sibala

    oops... that was close!

    Lemark Sibala

    November 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Player63

    Please continue with your meals while you enjoy our inflight movie....journey to the center of the earth staring.......YOU!

    November 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • peachykeen


      November 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HolyCow

    Imagine being the pilot in the can doing his business thinking everything's under control...when literally, the s#!t hits the ceiling! What you smoking co-pi?

    November 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. R.B.

    It's an entirely different kind of flying altogether.

    November 30, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. VeeZee

    What a terrible week to give up sniffing glue!

    November 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shawna

    I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you.

    November 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
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