A passenger of an airplane flying en route Baku-Moscow has recorded the ship commander regularly leaving the cockpit to chat with his acquaintance, who was also aboard the plane.
Report says, citing News.ru, that on January 7, the mentioned passenger was flying from Baku to Moscow’s Vnukovo aboard AZAL’s Airbus A320. The witness recorded the crew commander leaving the cockpit and entering the salon to talk to a man sitting in the business class. To the passenger’s questions, the senior pilot responded, saying he met his wife’s acquaintance, and therefore he comes to the salon to talk to him. The witness said the way the commander behaved bothered those who were flying with him, mainly because the airplane occasionally hit the turbulence zone.
NEWS.ru sent an official inquiry to AZAL with a request to comment on the passenger’s complaint.
“In response to your inquiry, we bring to your attention that the aviation company needs to conduct an internal investigation to assess the commander’s actions and take the respective measures about the crew, in case the norms and rules of the aviation company are violated,” AZAL said.
All the same, the company ignored the request to name the commander of the flight. According to NEWS.ru, the pilot’s name is Tahir Zarbalayev.
News.ru asked the experts whether the actions of the senior pilot of the crew correspond to the flight rules and whether the pilot put the passengers’ lives at risk with his actions.
Yuri Sytnik, Honored Pilot of the Russian Federation:
“Usually, when there are two crew members, they close and sit like two groundhogs in a hole. And it is allowed to leave the cockpit for a short time with the permission of the ship’s commander. It happens that there is a third pilot checking it. Then he can safely walk around the cabin. But he cannot do so without a particular need. Of course, after the publication of this video, they will find the pilot and issue him a warning. It is just like in the case when the ship commander invited his girlfriend and let her take the controls of the An-24. Under Mezhdurechensk, the A310 ship’s commander allowed his son to fly the aircraft. During the reversal, his son added speed, leading to an accident that killed 300 people. After that, they banned entry for unauthorized persons and put a camera in. And if a camera shows someone entering the cockpit, the trouble is there for the ship commander. You can leave the workplace only briefly and in case of an emergency. These are physiological needs. But at the same time, when one of the crew members leaves the workplace, the senior flight attendant must go in and stay in the cockpit. After all, you cannot leave one person in the cabin. It happened that a co-pilot remained at the helm, and the commander went out to chat with passengers. As a result, the plane “stuck” uphill. These developments prompted a recommendation – when a pilot leaves the cockpit, the flight attendant must be in the cockpit. Because if one pilot remaining in the cockpit suddenly feels bad, and the door is closed, it would be impossible to open the cockpit from the outside because the door is armored. The flight attendant will have to open this door and let in the next crew member, and the plane must make a safe landing at the destination airport at the nearest airfield.”
In contrast to the retired pilot, his working colleague and trade union activist defended the flight crew commander of the Azerbaijani airline.
Alfred Malinovsky, vice president of the Russian Flight Union:
I don’t see anything criminal here. The ship commander is not a chained slave in the galleys, who has no right to leave his place. He has a co-pilot. He can go to the toilet, walk around the cabin to see what is happening there, and chat with passengers. Answer their questions and even meet friends. What is not forbidden is allowed. Otherwise, everything may become absurd. It is already a sort of a phobia.”