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Home > Air Travel > Would a passenger be allowed into the flight deck when both pilots are incapacitated or one of them who is too ill to fly?
Would a passenger be allowed into the flight deck when both pilots are incapacitated or one of them who is too ill to fly?
Flying - Air Travel
Friday, 16 November 2012 14:08

Passenger lands plane, pilot dies

Hi Capt Lim,

I've always been interested in aircraft and flying. My parents have worked for commercial airlines around the country ever since I can remember. My dad used to take me to work with him when he was a gate agent, even onto the tarmac when he was at smaller airports. Of course this was all pre-9/11...

I've been playing flight simulator since I was a kid and finally started flight lessons for my PPL. I chose health care as a career path, mainly due to the bad job market for new pilots but also because I'm afraid of turbulence. Haha but I'm slowly getting over that the more I'm in the left seat.

My question for you: would a reasonable flight crew let a passenger into the flight deck these days, in the unlikely event of dual pilot incapacitation? (Of course I'd be more of an asset as a nurse tending to the crew).

What about to "lend a hand" if one pilot were ill? Or would he choose the cabin crew before any 'average Joe' with a few hours in a Cessna?

Thanks!

Jeremy Marsh

Hi Jeremy,

My article Tom, Dick or Harry (see here ) was based on a hypothetical case of both pilots being incapacitated. This event is so remote that if it ever were to happen, the purser would still follow the laid down procedures for a single pilot incapacitation case. He would page for the assistance of a pilot then a doctor, failing which an experienced nurse (like you) might be useful to “lend a hand”. It would be at his or her discretion to look for a pilot or the best medical assistant as he would require proof that this kind soul is either a doctor or a nurse.

In the case of both pilots being incapacitated (remember, the plane would continue to fly on the auto-pilot!) then it would be a very serious event. In this scenario, the purser would have to look for anyone who is a pilot or someone with some flying experience to assist. He has to be very discreet so as not to cause any alarm when requesting for such assistance!

Obviously if a qualified pilot is not on board then he would choose someone with a technical background or an ‘average Joe’ with some hours on a Cessna like you rather than one who has absolutely no knowledge about flying.

Incidentally, I have a response from a friend of mine who is a doctor on how he would handle this emergency – see this article in my website ‘Could an ordinary passenger safely land a commercial jet plane?’ here.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim


Plane lands safely after pilot dies mid flight


Pilot dies mid-flight; Plane lands safely in New Jersey

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