Chinese pilot grounded, Air Guilin grounds pilot who let passenger in cockpit.
A Chinese pilot has been banned from flying for life for allowing a young woman to visit the cockpit.
The incident happened on an Air Guilin flight 10 months ago, but the photos taken by the woman – later identified as Chen Yuying, a student who planned to become a flight attendant after graduation – only went viral on Sunday.
Chen, a third-year student at Guilin Tourism University, was seen posing in front of a tea set sitting in a pilot’s seat, and added a caption that read: “I am super thankful to the pilot! I am so thrilled!”
The picture, which was spotted this week on Weibo by someone working in the air industry, caused an uproar among aviation specialists.
They pointed out that it was taken when the plane was in mid-flight and identified the airline.
Air Guilin issued a statement on Monday confirming that the unnamed pilot had violated air safety rules.
It said that the incident had taken place in January on a flight between Guilin, in the southwestern region of Guangxi, and Yangzhou, a city in the eastern province of Jiangsu.
The statement said: “Air Guilin has decided to ban the pilot from flying for life” but did not say whether the pilot would continue working for the airline in another capacity.
“The other crew members have been suspended from flying indefinitely pending further investigations,” the statement said.
“Air Guilin always attaches great importance to passengers’ safety, and we have ‘zero tolerance’ for any improper and unprofessional conduct that may jeopardise aviation safety.”
China’s civil aviation regulations allow non-crew passengers in the cockpit only when their entry is necessary and conducive to flight safety.
Last year a pilot with Donghai Airlines was suspended from flying for six months and disqualified as a flying trainer for allowing his wife to enter the cockpit.