Pilot's Toilet Incident Sparks Terror Concerns (Audio)
The Nov. 16 flight of Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines operated as Delta Flight 6132, an ERJ-145 out of Asheville for LaGuardia, took a turn for the unusual when the captain stepped out of the cockpit and failed to return as expected. The flight was carrying 14 passengers and was progressing normally until, about 30 minutes from a holding pattern for LaGuardia, the captain left the cockpit to use the lavatory and got stuck there. Unable to force the door open, the captain pounded until he acquired the attention of a passenger. The captain endowed that passenger with his confidence and a message for the copilot. However, when the copilot received the message, recordings archived at LiveATC.net clearly show the copilot did not apply the same confidence to the messenger. "Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit," the copilot tells controllers, "and I'm not about to let him in."
After hearing the initially sketchy details, a voice on frequency offered advice: "OK, Chautauqua, you guys ought to declare an emergency and just get on the ground." Fortunately, that wasn't necessary. Some minutes later, the captain won his contest with lavatory door and was able to return to the cockpit. The helpful passenger remained in the cabin and the aircraft landed safely without further incident. In a written statement, Chautauqua said, "The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the aircraft's captain." It continued, "No one was ever in danger, and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the captain, as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions."