Irate Captain Locks Out Co-Pilot in Mid-Flight

Air New Zealand captain unhappy about tarmac delay, airline says

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2014 2:55 PM CDT
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(Newser) – An unhappy pilot got back at his first officer the way mature adults do—by locking him out of the cabin in mid-flight, according to an Air New Zealand official. The captain on a flight from Perth, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, apparently held a grudge after the first officer took a while performing a random drug and alcohol test, Stuff (NZ) reports. That delayed takeoff by 13 minutes, enough to roil a captain who took pride in his work. So when the first officer left the cabin for a comfort break (to visit the bathroom and have coffee with a crew member), the captain quietly locked the door.

The cabin crew member tried calling the captain for up to two minutes, but no answer. Finally the first officer "used an alternative entry method to gain access," said the airline official, Errol Burtenshaw. "Naturally, cabin crew operating the flight were concerned ... and became quite anxious.'' (They were even offered counseling after the flight.) The captain's excuse: He didn't respond because the plane was getting close to a navigational waypoint and a crew member was calling, not the first officer. Well, the captain was still laid off for two weeks, and the first officer for one. "Both pilots have learned a valuable lesson around the need to communicate better with peers," said Burtenshaw.

An Air New Zealand plane touches down in Auckland, New Zealand.
An Air New Zealand plane touches down in Auckland, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Airbus/HO)
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