Outrageous Headline of the Day

4 Sep 15 16 Comments

Today, on Times Warner Cable News: Pilot Caught on Camera Texting During Takeoff

Pilot Caught on Camera Texting During Takeoff

Looks bad, right? Except…how the heck could a passenger even see the pilot, let alone get video of the cockpit showing the pilot texting and checking twitter?

Well, let’s watch the video.

The pilot was a passenger.

He was apparently seated halfway down the plane, texting during the take-off roll.

The person filming told Charlotte news that he was worried about the plane’s safety and that he reported the incident to American Airlines.

American Airlines spokeperson managed to keep a straight face as he explained that the jump-seating pilot did not fly for them but works for another airline, with which AA have an agreement to transport crew members.

Man-from-Charlotte justified his complaint in the letter he wrote to the CEO of the American Airlines.

I am sure he is a good pilot, but even a small lapse in judgment in his profession can get people killed, and it bothers me that he can so casually disregard FAA regulations in the public view. I fear what he may be doing in the cockpit that could jeopardize passenger safety.

Goodness me, what other terrible things might the pilot do? I bet he’s the type to unbuckle his seatbelt before the aircraft comes to a complete halt, too. Maybe even open the overhead compartment.

Obviously Man-from-Charlotte must have known the pilot was off-duty, him sitting in the back and all, which makes me wonder if he reports everyone who uses their phone after the door is shut. I can’t think what American Airlines would do with such reports on every flight so I’ll assume it was just the one passenger.

To be fair, the pilot was in uniform. It is, quite frankly, bad form. As a representative of the flying community, it would be nice if he didn’t completely ignore the cabin crew when they are trying to speak to their passengers, let alone break the rules. I’m sure his airline will have something to say about it.

But really, this is not news.

Category: Crazy,


  • There still is no agreement on what effect use of mobile phone has on the electronics of aircraft.
    What IS certain is that the mobile phone – “on” during flight – will be constantly searching for the nearest cell. It will receive many in range and due to the speed will be receiving them one after the next.
    The result can be an annoying background noise, a blipping or beeping, in the background of the R/T. It could possibly distract the pilots.
    But the real transgression is the knowingly undermining by this pilot (on a positioning leg as a passenger) of the discipline on board. Ignoring the rules by someone who is clearly a qualified crew member.
    And personally I find this unacceptable.
    If I were the chief pilot of this man’s employing airline I most certainly would take disciplinary action. Not because of what he did, but simply because I could not tolerate crew members under my command to ignore the rules of another airline which is kind enough to transport “my” pilots. Well, the “my” is of course no longer applicable, I no longer fly.

  • My wife thinks that my comment is as “O.T.T.” as the blown-out-of-proportion complaint from the passenger.
    But think of it:
    The pilot who was filmed using his mobile phone during take-off – IN A PASSENGER SEAT – committed a very minor offence, an offence which is highly unlikely to put the aircraft in any kind of danger.
    Although we don’t really know what effect, if any, the use of mobile phones in an aircraft can have on an aircraft or it’s systems, I doubt that, apart from the nuisance factor I mentioned, it will have any effect at all.
    But that is not the point. The point I was making is that this pilot, as the guest of another airline, broke the rules.
    Major or not, had this pilot been employed in an airline and I had been the chief pilot it would have resulted at least in an official warning.
    In any serious airline, these warnings will be kept in the pilot’s file and can tip the scale when it comes to promotion.
    It is not a serious offence, it is more of an attitude problem. And in an airline environment that is usually not tolerated.

    • I agree there’s an attitude problem. However, I also agree with your wife that this is O.T.T. – normally, attitude problems do not make headlines, especially the kind of headlines that imply the aircraft is in danger!

      Edit: Oops! I meant that the news article was O.T.T., not your comment!

  • Meh.

    Look at it this way …

    Flying is safer than driving; therefore texting while flying is safer than texting while driving and look at how many people still do that!

    Welcome to Mitchworld.

  • You started an interesting discussion, Sylvia.

    Although I doubt very much that using a mobile phone in an aircraft will cause an accident, some experts must think otherwise. Otherwise, why is it still mandatory to switch off the mobile phone?
    The issue you raised boils down to two issues:
    1. The breach of discipline by a pilot who was deadheading in full uniform but who was not an employee of the carrier.
    What should be the action if any to be taken by the respective airlines
    2. A passenger who decides to video this pilot and put it in the public domain.

    The problem arises because this passenger’s action. Which I personally find despicable. If I were to have any say in this, this person would be told that he would be blacklisted and banned from flying with the airline.

    But the damage has been done. A video has been made public of a pilot who is blatantly using his phone whilst the aircraft – in which he is a passenger – has begun it’s take-off roll.
    The intended effect is of course to create sensation and to give aviation a black eye, a kick in the teeth. Totally unwarranted and very avoidable.

    From my perspective, as an imaginary chief pilot of an airline confronted with this situation:
    If the passenger were so concerned about safety, he should have made his concerns known to the carrier. The airline could have dealt with it by informing the employers of the pilot concerned. An apology or whatever issued and and the pilot would simply be told not to do this sort of thing again.
    But my hypothetical hand as chief pilot has been forced by a passenger who actually committed an act far more irresponsible than the texting of the pilot.
    But nevertheless, however minor the transgression, still there has been a now highly publicized breach of discipline and, to make matters worse, committed whilst travelling as a guest with another airline.

    Airlines are an unforgiving environment, in more ways than one.
    I would take disciplinary action against this pilot.
    His promotion – assuming he still was a first officer – definitely would be at risk of being substantially delayed.

    Yes, Sylvia, corporate aviation is a lot more fun than working for a (major) carrier. But the working conditions can be tough in other ways, the pay in general is a lot less and the job security only lasts as long as the employer can afford to keep the corporate jet.

    • I agree that the breach of discipline is a real issue. The passenger publicising the video (and the media broadcasting it!) is what I find bizarre, to be honest.

  • Ah yes, but the passenger was also using an electronic device during the taxi and take off sequence. Was he reprimanded?

    • The passenger was presumably in flight-safe mode. The complaint was not that the pilot was using an electrical device but that he was clearly connected to the internet thus not in flightsafe mode. I would laugh if the passenger had uploaded the video on the spot, though :)

  • Regardless of anyone’s opinion whether it’s safe or not, the FAA approved cell phone use by passengers during all phases of flight 2 years ago, so the man-from-Charlotte had nothing to be complaining about as the off-duty pilot wasn’t disregarding any FAA regulations. This is a non-issue, certainly not worthy of the sensational journalism in the original article or headline.

  • Well, I suppose the pilot in the cabin is technically a passenger, so he should follow all the rules that the passengers have to follow, but this is still silly! ¬.¬

  • Maybe a fellow pilot text an emergency and the pilot texting was attempting to help to save life and property – not unheard of is it. Conversely if he was just telling his wife he was alive and well, or reminding her to feed the dog or maybe have his dinner ready at a certain time! You bet you bibby that this Richard(Dick) Head if thats his name has had an unhappy childhood and hasn’t been able cope with adult matters very well. Although the flight crew show you how to put on a float device isn’t really in the expectation you will end up in the drink. As with the chap texting when passenger have been asked to disable their devices nobody is expecting a mobile signal to stop an aircraft from flying, or are they?

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