View Full Version : Flight Deck Access

5th May 2003, 04:08
I am an ATC "bod" based at Swanwick. This afternoon my colleagues and I were discussing if it would be possible to visit or travel on the flightdeck during a flight post Sept 11th, most of us are regular air travellers and have more than a passing interest in what goes on at the "pointy end" and certainly in the past have been made very welcome and we have been able to discuss matters of mutual interest. If we were to turn up as passengers with ATC licences, letters of introduction, Swanwick IDs or similar things would that allow the Captain of the aircraft to permit us to travel on the flightdeck without compromising SOPs and/or company regulations?.

blue belly
5th May 2003, 04:22
forget it, at least in my airline anyway... these days are over... unfortunately!

5th May 2003, 04:25
Try contacting the DFO of one of the airlines, I am sure it would be possible. Just a question of going about it the right way!

5th May 2003, 05:53
Sadly the answer is no, except by prior arrangement.
I know that my employer (Big Airways) are all for ATC visits. It's always great to meet you guys.
Nothing left to common sense anymore, can't even let my wife or kids on the flightdeck.


PS: Had a sewing kit taken off me at security the other day, just in case I stitched someone to death? But my pen (5 inches long, sharp point, nestles nicely in the palm with 2 inches protruding)was ok. mightier than the needle perhaps?

PPS: Very few of my colleagues have any respect for these regulations.

PPPS: The Tel Aviv suicide bomber (ex LHR employee) could have technically gained flightdeck access as an airline pass holder, but not my wife and kids

Where's the sense in all this? Leave it to the people who know?

5th May 2003, 06:48
Monarch - should be OK with a phone call first.

Andrew M
5th May 2003, 07:08
What about the incident with pop duo "The Cheeky Girls" gaining access to the flightdeck, after the captain invited them.

Apparently, according to The Sun, the aircraft then started "going all over the place" in the words of a passenger.

The airline was KLM, the aircraft was a Fokker Twin Prop with 100 PAX onboard at the time. Both pilots may be fired for misconduct.

Quite rightly so - and besides - I doubt that two singers who earn a living by shaking their bums while signing are interested in how an aircraft is flown, but rather some little boy up the back who wants to be a pilot could gain a lot more from the experience.

5th May 2003, 07:12
With 100 pax on a Fokker Twin Prop I'm not surprised it was going all over the place.

Andrew M
5th May 2003, 07:34

See related topic here. There obviously has been a spot of lousy reporting as, to quote a post mentioned on the thread:

I've just read the story on the Sun's website and far more worrying to me is the fact that apparently 100 passengers were on board this Fokker 50.

As posted by MerchantVenturer

Also, see The Sun article in full at their website here:-


5th May 2003, 09:10
"...a spot of lousy reporting...." Andrew M, you have made my day!

Lousy reporting is SOP now-days....after seeing so many blatant [email protected] (& over dramatisation) in Aviation reports I find it impossible to believe anything I read esp on subjects I know v little about.

The global scaremongering about SARs is another example of the sort of bias and drama that is best left for a soap opera.

The modern press have about as much respect as used car salesman.

Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.


5th May 2003, 17:00
"Monarch - should be OK with a phone call first."

Not quite sure how this squares with the new regulations that ONLY permit,

1. OPERATING crew.

2. CAA Inspectors / Examiners or Company Auditors / QA.

3. Training Capts on jump seat for Line Check etc

4. Engineers (authorized by DFO) for flight test.

5. No-one else!

I would like to think that an exemption could be granted for an ATC famil but hey, I'm confident that this has been extensively thought through and the best decision has been arrived at by the relevent authority to minimise the risk to all concerned.......... :rolleyes:


5th May 2003, 17:20
If I was flying around in a F50 with 100 pax on board, I would have ordered the Cheeky Girls in the cockpit to get an in-trim situation at least during approach&landing:p

In our company we permit ATCOs on the flightdeck, but this is always arranged via flight-department. In return we have had very nice receptions at the various ATC-units in Europe. It works great for enhancing mutual understanding.

Greetz, QTA

Shanwick Shanwick
5th May 2003, 17:25
It's all game over at Virgin too.

5th May 2003, 17:45

Careful you will be accused of being paranoid!:ok:

5th May 2003, 19:01
There have been tentative attempts to re-introduce fam flights for ATCO's - a friend of mine recently did a EGPF-EGLL trip 'up front' with BA. This was, however, arranged in advance through official channels. The good old days of announcing your occupation to the cheif hosty when you got on board and being allowed access to the flight deck as and when you wanted it are, alas, gone.

I believe that some sort of official fam flight scheme may be introduced after the summer but we will need to wait and see.

PPRuNe Radar
5th May 2003, 20:04
Turn up with a Swanwick ID and you're liable to be lynched until our delay performance gets a whole lot better ;)

A and C
5th May 2003, 23:48
It is the start of something very wrong when ATC staff cant get a jumpseat trip and for them to be vectoring aircraft around the sky without the first idea of the conditions and cockpit workload is a danger to all of us and the traveling public and so a number of flight deck flights should be part of the training.

The nub of the problem is that a bunch of civil servants and MP,s are making up the rules about a subject on which they have next to no knowledge.

It is my opinion that the CAA are fighting the security people on this one but unfortunatly goverment stupidity will always win.

The security risk of ATC staff on the flight deck (almost nill ) should be balanced with the risk to all flights of part trained controlers.

bagpuss lives
6th May 2003, 00:26
I agree totally with A and C.

Personally I think the experience gained with a fam flight trip is wholly invaluable. At my unit they're attemtping to make up for the lack of any scheme with flight sim time - on yes, you've guessed it, MS Flight Sim.

That's almost laughable as far as I'm concerned, not in terms of management attempting anything to demonstrate the realities of flying though - all we have is flight sim - at least they're trying something!

I was informed a few weeks ago that BA we re-introducing fam flights for ATCOs on a trial basis - not sure how that went or what the outcome was?

I miss my fam flights and I fear for the current student intake (or rather the intake that will follow the recruitment freeze) as they will have no flying training at all at the CATC - and even no fam flight to see things from the sharp end.

Worrying indeed.

6th May 2003, 02:30
The irony of this situation is that because of the quasi-military nature of some of their work, particularly at ATC centres, ATC staff are security vetted and party to the Official Secrets Act. I would like to suggest that ATC staff have a higher security rating than some of the airline crews themselves.

6th May 2003, 03:02
Surely the safest place for an ATCO is in the cockpit.

I am sure they could do far more damage if they wanted at the other end of the mic.


BAe 146-100
6th May 2003, 03:50

I asked if I could get a flight deck visit on a KLM flight from CPT-AMS on the 747 and the Captain wouldn't allow it :(.

BAe 146-100

6th May 2003, 03:55
I agree with all that has been said. We should have access to the flight deck, our data base of this knowledge will only become worse as time goes on. After all we are trusted ( security cleared), to look after all sorts of VIP's, even someone who has just had a 50th birthday and we do this all on our own with little supervision.
You may have guessed I do not work at 'The Dome'.

6th May 2003, 04:59
Totally agree, the people making the rules havent a clue about the actual working environment. Unfortunately they call the shots and given the choice they will cover their backsides every time.
I hope that sense eventually prevails and we start ATC and Cadet Fam flights again without special clearance.
After all if a CAA or TRANSEC inspector turns up without notice, then by their own rules I must deny them access, or am I missing something?


PS: Who can go through airside security on the wave of a pass, set off the metal detector, carrying a rucksack on the shoulder and would not be stopped? - Customs Officers
I have seen it happen, so who's guarding the guards? and what would you do if someone was holding your wife and kids?

PPS: You read it here first