Pilot banned from flying for life after photo of female passenger in cockpit goes viral


A pilot in China has been given a lifetime flying ban after a viral photo revealed he allowed a woman into the cockpit.

The picture, which shows the female passenger sitting in the captain’s seat and making a peace sign, was widely shared on Chinese social media site Weibo over the weekend. “Thanks to the captain. So happy,” read the caption.

Taken on an Air Guilin flight on 4 January, the image’s recent circulation prompted the airline to issue the pilot responsible, who has not been named, with a permanent flying suspension.

Air Guilin said the pilot had violated the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) air safety regulations by allowing an unauthorised person into the cockpit.

The incident occurred on flight GT1011 from Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to Yangzhou in East China’s Jiangsu Province.

Chinese aviation experts have said it looks like the photo was taken mid-flight, reports local media.

Other staff members who were onboard have also been suspended while the incident is investigated further.

“Passengers’ safety is always Air Guilin’s priority. We take a zero-tolerance approach against any inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour that might risk the aviation safety,” Air Guilin said in a statement. 

This post went viral (Weibo)

Incidents that take place in the cockpit are nearly always taken extremely seriously.

Last year, easyJet investigated after one of its pilots was filmed “dancing” in the cockpit during a flight. 

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In a post uploaded to Snapchat, a co-pilot could be seen doing paperwork while the plane was in cruise control. Upon realising that the pilot was filming him, he began to “dance” in time with an animated owl superimposed onto the phone screen.

The pilot, Michel Castellucci, later posted it onto the social media platform under the name “pilot_flyingnut”, with the caption: “Dancing first officer in cruise doing paperwork”.

The video only lasted a matter of seconds and was filmed during cruise – passenger safety was in no way compromised by the pilots’ actions.

In a statement provided to The Independent, an easyJet spokeswoman said: “Whilst at no point was the safety of the passengers compromised, this falls well short of the high standards easyJet expects of its pilots.

“It is not acceptable and is not representative of the thousands of highly professional pilots who work for the airline. We take this issue seriously and as such the pilots have been suspended (in line with our procedures) pending a disciplinary investigation.”

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