Cockpit visits in flight

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  skywards 13 Jan 2011
at 22:30

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  • Anonymous


    There are a few videos appearing on You Tube and some internet reports about cockpit visits during flights.

    As I understand it, the only country that has banned flight deck visits by a statute is the USA and this applies to all aircraft within US airpsace and also applies to all N registered aircraft operating world wide. Airlines like BA/Virgin operate a non flight deck access policy through internal company policy but this is not covered by UK law. i.e. there is no law that bans UK registered airlines from allowing flight deck visits it is all down to company policy.

    Whilst post 9/11 it is understandable and people may be nervous about seeing flight deck visits. There is now a system in the USA for non operating crew both in and out of uniform to use the jump seat, but only between certain airlines and this excludes ALL non US airlines. The US seem to have relaxed the non operating crew access for their own national pilots.

    I also understood that for all flights into Washington, passengers had to be seated and strapped in at least 40 minutes pre landing, but this also seems to have been reduced to 20 minutes.

    A cousin of mine was allowed onto the flight deck of a middle east airline about a year ago on a very quiet night flight by simply telling the steward about his interest in becoming an airline pilot.

    I would be interested to hear the forums views on this – especially whether anyone has gained cockpit access in flight and the rules as they now stand in 2011.

    this is one of about 20 I found on you tube (some in daylight where its far more obvious it was a passenger taking the video)


    I exxperienced a similar story –
    In July 2010 i travelled on an Iberia flilght into Madrid, on on boarding in the Carnary Islands i thought it a bit strange that the crew closed the famous galley curtain, but i could see what was happening from row 1, that an adult passenger and child (about 3 yrs) went into the flight deck. The door closed and the curtain re-opened.

    The 2 “extra” flight deck people remained for the duration of the flight,

    I have to ask – a child on the flight deck! – how dangerous is this – with drinks that could easily be spilt.

    I did write to Iberia and they confirmed that vsits are not allowed, and yet on this particular flight that 2 extras were allowed due to an Oversale problem

    Seems like one rule that was clearly broken!


    On an overbooked flight from ZRH – AMS, KLM put my then 15 year old son in the jump seat of a 737, gave him headphones to listen in, the works. He even got a choice of food. BTW, he told me both pilots had the same food to eat, so that explodes another myth.

    More recently, on a flight over the Indian Ocean, my 7 year old was briefly allowed into the cockpit during a night flight when he could not sleep.


    “Sterile flight decks” is an American rule, which most non US airlines have taken aboard as company policy. There was talk and I dont know if it happened that later A380 models were going to have totally sterlile flight decks, with seperate entry doors.

    The situation nearly 10 years after 9/11 is that the US have opened cockpit access for travelling pilots whose airlines/companies sign up to a new procedure (purposely not named). Non US airline personnel, naturally are not permitted to sign up.

    I remember not so long ago, when a British pilot was severely reprimanded by our American “cousins” when the flight deck door opened on final appraoch into Washington.

    The Americans I am sure will continue to influence airline/airport and flight security around the world & then relax the rules to suit themselves.


    Talk of cockpit visits brings back many great memories! My favourite took place about 13 years ago on a LGW – BOS flight on a 747 with Virgin when my 3 year old son and I were invited to visit the cockpit. My son, nornally talkative, was awestruck and silent as the captain talked us through the instruments and controls. All of a sudden, my son made a lunge at one of the controls, luckily failing to reach it before being stopped. The captain looked relieved although he did not tell us what that particular bit did!! We exited quickly after that……


    In July 2000, my wife and I were flying Dub-LCY with Virgin CityJet (as it then was). Shortly after take off, my wife had a panic attack, and the crew were very helpful, including an invitation to visit the Captain in the cockpit.

    Her overiding memory of this event was the Captain and co-pilot sitting in their comfy chairs with the aircraft flying (handsfree!) on autopilot.

    The Captain was very friendly and calming, and my wife enjoyed the remainder of our flight. I doubt that this would be allowed under current security arrangements, but at that time it was much appreciated. It was also an indication of how a fledgling airline valued it’s customers.


    There are airlines who still allow flight deck visits, including European carriers, but not in UK airspace, due to UK regulations.

    Interesting to remember that the US ‘sterile flight deck’ rules came not from terrorism, but from a violent crime – I think it was this one, but stand to be corrected.

    Martyn Sinclair, the phrase ‘Sterile Cockpit’, in the US, usually refers to the regulation requiring pilots to refrain from non-essential activities during critical phases of flight, in particular those operating under parts 121 and 135.


    On my first flight ever when i was about 12 years old i was flying from ATH to Vienna on a 737 and the Captain was a family friend who was living next to us, i enjoyed all the flight excluding take off and landing, also they explained me many things about the deck such as auto-pilot, radar and some buttons.

    It was awesome !!


    I would be interested to see the chapter and verse re cockpit visits in UK airspace becasue this would imply it would be a criminal offence for a pilot to allow non authorized personnel into the flight deck.


    I don’t have chapter and verse on it, but here is a reference on PPRune

    The comment by The Real Slim Shady, a few posts down, is interesting, which suggests that the regulation is only to keep the door closed, not necessarily to eject people already there, but I cannot comment on that as I have not seen the reg.


    BTW don’t forget the accident that Aeroflot had back in 90s when the pilot brought inside the deck his children.


    As far as I am aware there is no UK law that rules out the possibilty of the general public being allowed in the cockpit during flight.

    I also do not believe that there is any law about flight deck access for the general public, i.e. through the hallowed door during flight.

    What there is however are the airlines internal security and operating procedures and those of the jurisdictions in whose airspace they are flying.

    If I charter a business jet, irrespective of its size, (but with a closed flight deck – say a Gulfstream 2 and above, which takes into account the big Boeing/Airbus biz jets) it is down to the aircraft operators whether they will allow their clients access to the flight deck.

    I know that some will, whilst others wont – and this includes American registered jets flying in US airpspace.

    You may think an operator is commiting commercial suicide by refusing access to the flight deck to one of their clients, but some do, whilst others dont!

    The same rules apply to both the world of charter flying and scheduled airline.


    This is the only reference to the UK DFT regulation that I can find and it is (a) from a non official source and (b) 7 years old.

    That said, from recent conversations with airline pilots, it still seems to be in force.

    “Here’s the latest rules from the DOT, effective tomorrow:

    The existing policy for use of Flight Deck Jumpseats to the US will be extended to all destinations from Friday 28 November 2003. The policy is as below.

    The aeroplane commander may not permit flight deck access if not in compliance with the criteria contained in this Direction. The aeroplane commander has ultimate discretion over a person’s access to the flight deck, including for otherwise “permitted persons”. Whilst the commander retains the right to refuse to allow any person into the flight crew compartment, the commander does not have the right to allow any person to enter the flight deck who is not a “permitted person”.

    The following is a list of permitted persons allowed to enter the flight deck as directed to UK airlines by the Department of Transport.

    Permitted Persons
    (i) Any member of the operating crew including flight and cabin crew.
    (ii) Flight and cabin crew employed by the airline who are off duty but either travelling to start their duty, or travelling after its close, when no seat is available in the passenger cabin.
    (iii) Airline company personnel when travelling on duty, when no seat is available in the passenger cabin.
    (iv) Personnel from a company in the same group of companies as the airline company, when travelling on company business, when there is an established common security screening and ID issuing process, and when no seat is available in the passenger cabin.
    (v) Pilots conducting training duties.
    (vi) CAA officials, AAIB officials and DfT officials, with statutory powers to enter and remain on a flight deck when on duty.
    (vii) Persons who need to have access to the flight deck for reasons relating to aviation safety.
    (viii) Any other category of person approved in advance by the CAA.

    Validation of Permitted Persons
    Permitted persons seeking to enter the flight deck must have a valid photographic ID. A valid photographic ID is one which satisfies the criteria in the Operations Manual and the aeroplane commander as to the bonafides of the person. All such IDs must be shown to and checked by the aeroplane commander before the flight.

    Other categories of persons with an identified operational need to enter and remain on the flight deck.
    Such persons should have a means of positive identification and the aeroplane commander must be informed in writing by the DFO or the CP of the carriage of such persons and at what phases of the flight they may have access to the flight deck and remain on the flight deck. This should also include information of the person’s name and exact reason for authority to occupy a supernumerary flight deck jump seat.

    Such persons include:
    (a) A manufacturer’s representative who has an operational need to enter and remain on the flight deck.
    (b) A person who is conducting research into flight deck operational issues such as FTL, air quality etc.
    (c) A person who for operational purposes needs to take photographs of the approach and landing at an aerodrome.
    (d) An Air Traffic Control Officer for the purpose of familiarisation.”


    I really don’t have the time (or inclination) to research the exact nature of the direction, but imagine that it would be in the form of a regulation issued by the secretary of state using the powers of the Aviation Security Act 1982 or similar.

    However, it is clear that passengers are not permitted to enter the flight deck.

    You may recall that Capt Pablo Mason was dismissed for gross misconduct for letting a passenger enter the flight desk during the private charter of a MyTravel aircraft.


    DS – Pprune provides good information but I wouldnt take it as gospel without a verified source – 7 years old indeed!!!

    Very unlike you for such ramblings.

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