Chinese airline suspends and fines pilot for allowing wife in cockpit

Chinese airline suspends and fines pilot for allowing wife in cockpit
Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines said a pilot let his wife, who was not named, into the cockpit on two flights on July 28.
PHOTO: Handout

Chinese carrier Donghai Airlines on Wednesday said it had suspended and fined a pilot for allowing his wife to go inside the cockpit.

In a statement, the Shenzhen-based airline said it would improve safety measures to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

The company said a pilot surnamed Chen had let his wife, who was not named, into the cockpit on two flights on July 28.

The first flight was from Nantong, Jiangsu province to Lanzhou, Gansu, with a layover in Zhengzhou, Henan. The second flight was from Lanzhou to Beijing.

The pilot had bought a ticket for his wife from Nantong to Zhengzhou, but then allowed her to stay on the plane all the way to Beijing. The airline did not say at what stage the woman was in the cockpit or how long she had spent there.

The airline said the pilot had "abused his rights … and acted against the advice of others".Photo: Handout

"He violated operating procedures and air safety regulations," said the statement, which was posted on the airline's account on microblogging site Weibo.

"Chen abused his rights as a pilot, overlooked the rules and the bottom line, and acted against the advice of others."

The pilot has been suspended for six months and his qualifications as a flying instructor with the company have been revoked.

He was also fined 12,000 yuan (S$2,387) and ordered to pay for his wife's journey from Zhengzhou to Lanzhou and then to Beijing.

His co-pilots, surnamed Wang and Zhao, were also suspended for 15 days and fined 6,000 yuan each. The flight safety officer, surnamed Sun, was fined 500 yuan.

The company revealed the safety breach after China's aviation regulator told media in December that Chinese airlines had "operated safely" for 98 consecutive months, or 66.4 million hours, as of October.

Similar incidents have come to light in the past. After the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in 2014, South African woman Jonti Roos told the Daily Mail that she and a friend had been entertained in the cockpit by missing co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid and his colleague during a flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur in 2011.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post

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