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Co-Pilot's Panic During Pilot Potty Break Sends Plane Into a Nosedive

An official investigation into a May airplane incident in India reveals just how close a co-pilot came to killing 113 passengers aboard a commuter jet. And it all started with a bathroom break.

From Australian News:

An Indian co-pilot sent an international passenger jet into a terrifying nosedive when he adjusted his seat and accidentally pushed the control column forward, an official report reveals.

When the captain, 39, got back into the cockpit, he shouted, "What are you doing?" as cabin crew ordered the 113 terrified passengers to fasten their seatbelts.

The 25-year-old co-pilot told the inquiry he had "got in a panic situation, couldn't control the aircraft or ... open the cockpit door and answer the cabin call."

The captain only saved the Boeing 737 aircraft after using an emergency code to get through the cockpit door and take the controls back from the co-pilot, the report by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

The clumsy officer then panicked and was unable to let the captain, who had gone on a toilet break, back into the cockpit as the plane plunged 2000 metres.

The report said there was "complete commotion" in the cabin and that passengers were "very much scared and were shouting loudly" as the plane dived steeply and boxes and liquor bottles fell into the aisle.

The Air India Express flight was flying at 37,000 feet from Dubai to Pune airport, in western India, on May 26 when the near-disaster occurred. No one was injured.

According to the report, the nosedive was "due to the co-pilot adjusting his seat forward and inadvertently pressing the control column forward."

The plane fell 610m before the captain got back into the cockpit - and another 1520mt as he struggled with the panicking co-pilot.

According to the report, the pilot tried to cover up the incident by telling passengers the plane had hit an air pocket.

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