Pilots Duke It Out On Air France Flight


Two Air France pilots have been given a timeout by the airline after they came to blows in the cockpit in June. Details are scant, but the fracas occurred during the short hop from Geneva to Paris. According to ABC, Switzerland’s La Tribune was the first to report that the pilots started arguing shortly after takeoff and they grabbed each other by the collars and at least one punch was thrown. 

Members of the cabin crew broke them up, and one of them chaperoned the pilots while they got back to work. The flight landed normally a short time later. The news came out as French authorities released a report saying Air France pilots have been sloppy in their handling of inflight issues in the last few years. It was particularly critical of a crew’s decision to keep flying even though they knew the aircraft had a fuel leak. More recently there was an incident where the two pilots simultaneously gave opposite control inputs and thought there was an issue with the aircraft. Air France has said it will do a safety audit in response to the reports.

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  1. Years ago now, in the Spain training two Russian pilots converting from TU154 (3 engines 5 crew & steam driven instrument display) to the then state of the art 2 crew Boeing 737NG, the captain would strike his First Officer lightly over the wrists if he made an error of any kind. I mentioned that this practice had fallen out of use in the UK in recent years, but with little impact, either on their vision of CRM or the F/Os wrists.

  2. “More recently there was an incident where the two pilots simultaneously gave opposite control inputs…”

    Wasn’t this a causal factor in crash of Air France 447? Yikes, one would think they would have thoroughly addressed this in the training department by now.

  3. There’s more to this story and the public may never read about it since no one was harmed and the aircraft landed without issues. Suspending both, separating them from ever working together again and attending anger management classes may help. Unfortunately, if pilot shortages hamper discipline, these two may operate separate from each other.

  4. In my 40+ year career, there have been one or two times where a difference of style or opinion caused significant friction between a colleague and myself. It can be psychologically debilitating, sometimes profoundly so for one or the other. Is this problem somehow not obvious to Airline Management or HR?

    There should be (must) a mechanism in place to anonymously de-select a colleague with whom you have a major rift with. Bad blood in the cockpit is dangerous.