This Is Why You Don’t Let Unauthorized People in the Cockpit

The cockpit isn’t a place where you want distractions. It’s also not a place where you want anything other than flying to be a priority.

It’s not a place for horsing around. The pilot of Aeroflot 6502 thought he could land without looking. That was a bad idea.

In 1994 Aeroflot flight SU593 from Moscow to Hong Kong crashed into mountains in South Siberia after the pilot’s 16 year old son accidentally disengaged autopilot control of the Airbus A310’s ailerons. That sent the plane into a near vertical dive. While the pilot leveled off the plane, he stalled the aircraft while pulling up.

And that’s why unauthorized passengers don’t sit in the cockpit during flight. Pilots aren’t supposed to let attractive passengers join them up front. Even when the passenger is a porn star. Or a Playboy Bunny.

That’s why Shenzen-based Donghai Airlines has suspended a pilot for allowing his wife in the cockpit – twice. (HT: Jane Frye)

  • The pilot received a 6 month suspension, was fined $1750, and has to pay for his wife’s travel. No free rides.

  • The other flight officers were also suspended and fined — for going along with it.

The pilot’s wife, it turns out, bought a ticket for the first flight her husband was piloting — from Nantong to Lanzhou — then she just stayed with him for the rest of his journey that day to Beijing.

It’s ‘only his wife’ but spouses have been known to get into arguments, indeed two American flights diverted around Thanksgiving when couples got into fights on board.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. On a BA flight CDG-LHR, pre-9/11, the offer was made for a charitable donation (Children in Need) a lucky passenger could sit in the cockpit during landing. Still kicking myself for not making an offer.

  2. I think the Aeroflot incident is a better argument for why a crew should not allow random people to fly the plane (yeah, I know the autopilot was initially engaged, but still…)

  3. A recent trio of Mayday Air Disaster shows revealed that one modern day crash, originally thought to be due to ice, was actually due to tired pilots (fatigued) that strayed off into non-flying conversation. Call it distracted flying. As the plane was stalling, the pilot pulled back on the yoke which was completely opposite of what he should have done to regain airspeed. The copilot lowered the flaps, again completely opposite, and sealed their fate.
    The NTSB behavioral specialist determined their was too much chitchat during the approach and that is specifically prohibited during that phase of the flight, to prevent distracted takeoffs and landings.

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