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Knock, Knock, Knockin' On The Flight Deck Door


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ANZ B772 enroute on May 21st 2014, first officer locked out of cockpit

Sunday, Jul 6th 2014 22:05Z

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200, registration ZK-OKD performing flight NZ-176 from Perth,WA (Australia) to Auckland (New Zealand), had been delayed at Perth due to an unannounced random alcohol and drug test, the first officer had to go through. The captain was "enraged" by the delay, a dispute between the pilots arose. Later the aircraft was enroute when the first officer left the cockpit for a toilet break, then got a coffee and had a quick chat with cabin crew. While the first officer left the cockpit, the captain donned his oxygen mask as per standard operating procedures. Upon the first officer's return to the cockpit the captain did not open the cockpit door, three requests to enter the cockpit remained unresponded. The first officer finally opened the cockpit door by the emergency procedure about 2 minutes later and returned to the cockpit. The aircraft continued to Auckland for a safe landing.

The captain is known to require punctuality, his pride was hurt when due to the late arrival of the first officer the departure of the aircraft was delayed by 13 minutes.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority reported the captain stated that later into the flight the aircraft was approaching a navigational waypoint, the captain was focussing on the procedures, saw a member of the cabin crew in the monitor and thought the cabin crew would like to enter the cockpit, therefore did not respond to the request to open the door. Both pilots were stood down after the flight and received additional training and counselling, the captain for two and the first officer for one week. The CAA is satisfied with a report provided by the airline indicating that both pilots learned a valuable lesson about the necessity to communicate better with their peers.

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Is that still SOP for the remaining pilot to don his mask when the other leaves the flight deck? With new aircraft, I thought that procedure was no longer required.

This was a 777 but I think Air NZ has some old school SOPs. Not sure why they would do this as not many pilots can properly re-stow the quick-donning masks on late model Boeings. It takes some practice to get it right. I used to tell pilots in the sim...."just leave them, I"ll do it later"

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There must be more to the story than a jerk Capt since the FO was also given a week offline. I don't think this would have been the case if he was completely blameless.

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Definitely two sides to this story and probably a "doesn't play well with others" situation. However, most pilots I know can walk and chew gum at the same time. Why this Captain couldn't select the flight deck door switch and make his position report (if that is what is meant by navigational waypoint procedure) is puzzling. Apparently their aircraft are fitted with door cameras so at some point he would have seen his FO standing by to return to the flight deck. Had he known the skipper was intentionally locking him out, he should have gotten comfy and watched a movie. Perhaps the Captain would have invited him back sometime before landing.

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So:

1: Air NZ doesn't have a cabin crew member go into the cockpit when 1 pilot goes to the toilet? I thought always having at least 2 people in the cockpit was a pretty standard procedure worldwide nowadays.

2: They have to don oxygen masks every time somebody takes a leak? yikes! Stowing them is not easy, it's a maintenance function in our company. Would really suck if they screwed up the reset then didn't have oxygen available during a decompression.

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So:

1: Air NZ doesn't have a cabin crew member go into the cockpit when 1 pilot goes to the toilet? I thought always having at least 2 people in the cockpit was a pretty standard procedure worldwide nowadays.

2: They have to don oxygen masks every time somebody takes a leak? yikes! Stowing them is not easy, it's a maintenance function in our company. Would really suck if they screwed up the reset then didn't have oxygen available during a decompression.

1) If door cameras are installed, some airlines are able to wave that procedure.

2) Absolutely. This Air NZ policy is several decades old right along with the Captain's CRM skills.

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1) If door cameras are installed, some airlines are able to wave that procedure.

Interesting, didn't know that. We certainly don't use that exemption, and I wouldn't want to. The 2nd person in the cockpit is there for more reasons than just checking to see who's at the door.

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Interesting, didn't know that. We certainly don't use that exemption, and I wouldn't want to. The 2nd person in the cockpit is there for more reasons than just checking to see who's at the door.

How do you know that the 2nd person is not a plant to disable or kill the single remaining pilot when the other pilot is in the can?

After all, you could get a "clean" young terrorist through the FA training system in a blink, then they have mandated access to the flight deck are standing behind the operating pilot who occasionally must turn his attention forward. They could then disable the PF, lock the other pilot out, then maybe let their friends in, or pop her up to 450 for a bit and head out over the Indian Ocean.

Personally, I'd rather not have anyone else up when I'm alone. Codes, voice and cameras are quite capable of identifying someone who wants to get back in and the value of someone else in the flight deck is marginal, if not more of a distraction than a benefit.

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How do you know that the 2nd person is not a plant to disable or kill the single remaining pilot when the other pilot is in the can?

After all, you could get a "clean" young terrorist through the FA training system in a blink, then they have mandated access to the flight deck are standing behind the operating pilot who occasionally must turn his attention forward. They could then disable the PF, lock the other pilot out, then maybe let their friends in, or pop her up to 450 for a bit and head out over the Indian Ocean.

Personally, I'd rather not have anyone else up when I'm alone. Codes, voice and cameras are quite capable of identifying someone who wants to get back in and the value of someone else in the flight deck is marginal, if not more of a distraction than a benefit.

C'mon, Inchman - that's a stretch. The same could be said for a pilot coming up through the ranks. To deny one cabin crewmember access to the flight deck is to deny them all. Otherwise you're limiting access to one CCM at a time. But then, that single cabin crewmember could be an expert in martial arts and take out both pilots, given a single CCM access policy.

Reductio ad absurdum!

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C'mon, Inchman - that's a stretch. The same could be said for a pilot coming up through the ranks. To deny one cabin crewmember access to the flight deck is to deny them all. Otherwise you're limiting access to one CCM at a time. But then, that single cabin crewmember could be an expert in martial arts and take out both pilots, given a single CCM access policy.

Reductio ad absurdum!

Disagree, MtL.

A flight attendant can go from the street to the cabin in 6 weeks and has full access to the flight deck and the bad guys know many airlines use the FA "guard" process.

The same doesn't apply for a pilot. It would be too long a road to induct a "sleeper" pilot in hopes that they might be hired by a target airline and still be sympathetic to the cause years later. It is possible, and we've seen it on Egypt Air, where a pilot has "turned" within their career... most likely an insanity thing than a terrorist thing. I don't think a "guard" flight attendant would have prevented that one or could prevent any pilot from intentionally causing an aircraft to crash.

We have also seen it on FedEx with a relatively new, deadheading Flight Engineer attacked the flight crew. I suppose any flight attendant could attempt to disable both crew members with the crash axe, but it would be a lot easier to just disable one when invited into the flight deck under SOP's.

I don't see any advantages in using "guard" FA's, especially on aircraft with cockpit door cameras. I would like to read valid reasons for this process. Maybe I'm missing something. I'm always willing to learn.

I'm not sure who has Reductio'd the most, but I would suggest that my position is more plausible than your extension.

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Disagree, MtL.

A flight attendant can go from the street to the cabin in 6 weeks and has full access to the flight deck and the bad guys know many airlines use the FA "guard" process.

The same doesn't apply for a pilot. It would be too long a road to induct a "sleeper" pilot in hopes that they might be hired by a target airline and still be sympathetic to the cause years later. It is possible, and we've seen it on Egypt Air, where a pilot has "turned" within their career... most likely an insanity thing than a terrorist thing. I don't think a "guard" flight attendant would have prevented that one or could prevent any pilot from intentionally causing an aircraft to crash.

We have also seen it on FedEx with a relatively new, deadheading Flight Engineer attacked the flight crew. I suppose any flight attendant could attempt to disable both crew members with the crash axe, but it would be a lot easier to just disable one when invited into the flight deck under SOP's.

I don't see any advantages in using "guard" FA's, especially on aircraft with cockpit door cameras. I would like to read valid reasons for this process. Maybe I'm missing something. I'm always willing to learn.

I'm not sure who has Reductio'd the most, but I would suggest that my position is more plausible than your extension.

Agree to disagree. This discussion might best be served outside the public purview from here forward as it is approaching topics a lot of people don't need to know.

A dilemma to be sure.

Answer me this: Do you want to live in the trust or the fear of your crewmembers?

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I don't think we're talking about anything here that nefarious elements don't already know. But, I won't add anything.

I try to operate by injecting as little risk as possible to the operation. I don't see the upside of the guard and there is some direct downside in the distraction factor and a very slim security factor.

I do trust my crewmembers.

I have no problem with a familiar crewmember coming into the flight deck when I'm alone. The hairs on the back of my neck would start to tingle, though, if one of them who I wasn't familiar with just happened to want to come up when the FO stepped out. As a matter of fact, I would probably delay the visit until the FO returned.

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