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In-flight scare as Air NZ co-pilot locked out of cockpit

July 7, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59An incident in which an Air New Zealand first officer was locked out of the cockpit on a flight between Perth and Auckland has led to two of the airline’s pilots being stood down for weeks and their cabin crew offered counselling.

The “frightening mid-air incident” occurred on a packed B777 on 21 May 2014, the New Zealand Herald reported yesterday.

The first officer was locked out of the flight deck of flight NZ176 for two minutes, apparently after the captain and first officer fell out over a flight delay.

Two minutes is a long time in flight. The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 303 people.

When the captain did not respond to repeated requests to open the locked door, the first officer eventually used “an alternative method to access the cockpit” which the airline would not divulge for security reasons.

A captain locking himself alone in a cockpit is a serious matter, particularly in an environment jittery after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the B777 that disappeared on 8 March 2014.

Also a serious matter is the disclosure that there’s a quick way to circumvent the B777 cockpit locking system and gain entrance to the flight deck. According to aviation blogs, this method is widely known in the airline industry, which indicates it is probably known beyond that – possibly by the wrong people as well as the right ones.

The New Zealand Herald said the incident on NZ176 has triggered calls for a third crew member to be added to flight decks so no one is ever alone in the cockpit.

According to the paper, the cockpit tension began when the first officer was chosen to take part in a random pre-flight drug and alcohol test, which led to a 13-minute delay which frustrated the punctual captain.

The airline says the captain did not respond because he was busy in the cockpit as the plane approached a navigational waypoint. The captain was stood down for two weeks and the first officer for a week.

MEANWHILE, in another incident, Air New Zealand has reported that a middle-aged female passenger collapsed and died aboard an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Los Angeles.

The woman was said to be on a holiday trip with her husband.

A coroner was called and normal processes followed on landing, the airline said. But reports emerged that the plane had been grounded at LAX with all passengers for several hours while waiting for the coroner to collect the woman’s body. It was the Fourth of July, a public holiday, in the USA, but that shouldn’t have made any difference.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Provided that…

    According to the paper, the cockpit tension began when the first officer was chosen to take part in a random pre-flight drug and alcohol test, which led to a 13-minute delay which frustrated the punctual captain

    did the aftrmath investigation proceeded on the above subject?
    Who of the two wanted a booze during the flight hiding from the other?

    hoi… hoi….hu hu hu…
    ( do not misunderstand me , my breath smell of lily of the valley !)

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