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Pax cockpit access - are there rules?

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Pax cockpit access - are there rules?

Old 22nd Apr 2007, 08:43
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Pax cockpit access - are there rules?

Folks, I apologise if this is in the wrong forum room. This is my first post, though I've been an interested SLF member here for many years and thus I value your sage opinions immensely.
Last night I flew Nok Air (DD), the budget arm of TG, from Krabi to the recently re-opened Don Mueang airport in Bangkok, and was surprised to see a civilian go into the cockpit while we were on the ground prior to departure. I mentioned this to the cabin crew, who told me it was OK because "he's a captain".
That was an acceptable explanation and I thought no more, until we had just started descent into Bangkok and he walked back to the cockpit with his two sons (probably around 14 and 12 y.o.) and took them in and closed the door.
At this point I became concerned, because we now had 5 people in a 734 cockpit, and the crew were obviously running through landing procedures.
I voiced my concerns to the cabin crew and asked them to pass them to the Captain, which they did, and this guy and his two kids emerged some minutes later. As he walked past me he smiled and handed me his business card, which had him as a senior employee of Nok Air.
Apart from what appears to be an abuse of his position with the airline, are there any international rulings about having passengers in the cockpit in these days of heightened security, or should I just put this down to idiocy, particularly as he waited until we had started descent to wheel in the kids? Or perhaps it varies by airline?
As we were collecting our baggage he came over to engage me in conversation about where I lived (unfortunately for him, in Bangkok) and what we'd been doing in Krabi. I told him straight out that I thought he'd acted irresponsibly, to which he replied that it was OK because his job is making sure the crew are working properly (though what that had to do with showing his two kids around an operating cockpit escapes me!)
I'd be interested to know if anyone knows the rules and regs pertaining to pax in the cockpit, particularly in Thailand where the rule of law seems to be discretionary at the best of times.

Last edited by takemehome; 24th Apr 2007 at 03:15.
Old 22nd Apr 2007, 08:55
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What issue exactly are you troubled about?

(a) Are you worried that a 14yr old or a 12yr old might be a terrorist?

(b) Are you worried about distractions for the operating crew?

To the first worry - well, I think we all know the answer to that......

To the second - pre 9/11, it was never, EVER, allowed become a problem. If such visits DID become distracting they would be (politely) asked to leave. Simple. Did that a few times.

We have become a sad, pathetic, frightened, species, terrified of our own shadows.

Mate - good on the Captain, as far as I'm concerned! Couldn't do such a thing in this pathetic country (Aus) as I'd get sacked.... How sad. Children no longer allowed to be inspired....

The way things are going, there will be NO new pilots in the future, as all our youngsters will never have been inspired and enthused about the profession.

But that's ok, because guys like me will very soon be able to negotiable multi-million-dollar contracts for our labour!
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 08:55
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Rules vary from state to state, and are enforced in varying degrees. It all used to be fine pre-911, which IMHO was a one-off, and I would be certainly happy to have visitors back in the flight deck, would the CAA and my company allow it.

I wouldn't worry about it, concern over things like this may just mean you've been reading the Daily Mail too much!
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 09:24
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Point taken. Thanks lads. 'Tis true that more than once when I was a lot younger I was allowed up the front by some of your friendly peers and that piked my interest in flying greatly.

This was more a question about whether there were hard and fast international rules about cockpit access these days post 9/11, and whether Nok Air were flaunting the rules. After all, the sign on the door says "Crew Only".

If so, then it's not out of the question that they could do the same with other regulations and requirements, thus requiring a judged decision as to whether they are the best carrier option to fly locally.

With the likes of Phuket Air and Adam Air popping up from time to time around the region I find it's helpful to one's longevity to stay informed.
Old 22nd Apr 2007, 09:24
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Any pilot will tell you that we have had people sitting behind us watching what we're doing regularly from day 1. When flying light aircraft the pax are next to you and right behind you, it's no different than a car. In the airlines it could be new pilots learning the ropes, Cabin Crew seeing how it's done, ATCO's seeing what we do on the flight deck or of course other captains checking/examining your flying. It's no more of a distraction than having someone sat in the car with you when you're driving along the road.

I'd welcome flight deck visits, and would love to have my mum and dad sit on the jumpseat for a flight, unfortunately I don't see it happening, which is a great shame.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 10:20
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It is so sad to see visits on the 41 000ft office are hardly possible anymore, especially for children.

I got onto the flight deck on my 3rd flight, probably at the age of 6 or 7 and was thrilled from the very first second.

Passion didn't stop over all the years.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 10:46
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There are a myriad of rules and regulations regarding access to the flight deck whilst airborne. Sadly, the ones that allowed many of us to have visitors were irrevocably changed after 9/11 even though that had nothing to do with 'visitors'. The knee jerk reactions, especially by the Americans even though they never allowed 'visitors' before 9/11 anyway, caused us over here in the UK many problems.

The powers that be do not think that we or our cabin crew have enough common sense to decide whether someone shuld or shouldn't be able to visit the flight deck. Their main argument was that opening the flight deck door would give an opportunity for every terrorist to dive in and take over control of the aircraft. They based their fear on their paranoia that every flight was a target.

As far as NOK Air is concerned on an internal flight, I have no idea and I sincerely hope that they haven't totally capitulated to the US blanket ruling that is tragically based on a single bad experience even though their own fairly lax security checks were partly to blame. Without a doubt, any flight to or from the USA is sublect to the TSA ruling that only authorised personnel with a flight duty are allowed in the flight deck. How other countries enact their rules, if they have any at all, is open to their own interpretations.

Unfortunately here in the UK, there is no discretion for us to even have parents, spouses or siblings on the flight deck during flight, never mind total strangers unless they are crew qualified and work for the same airline. The DfT have succumbed to the US method of blanket banning. For us pilots, especially on longer flights there is no longer the opportunity to explain to wide eyed visitors what everything does and for them to enjoy the vistas that we do.

For many of us, myself included, it was the opportunity to visit the flight deck that kindled the desire to take up the profession in the first place. Subsequent visits only enhanced that desire and led to a passion that, after a lot of hard work and expense eventually led to a career which many envy and less and less aspire to.

The ramifications of the new regulations that forbid flight deck visits whilst in flight will have their biggest effect approximately 15 years after they were introduced as the dearth of qualified and experienced pilots dries up due to there being insufficient new applicants to the profession because not enough of them know enough about it and never had that inspirational visit to the flight deck that kindled their dreams. That and the relentless security regimes we have to go through just to get to and from work as we are suspected of being terrorists thanks to inept and ignorant decision makers who make rules based on what looks effective rather than what would be effective.

As was mentioned above, too many people believe what they read in the newspapers and have little or no understanding of what is a security threat. The odds of a 9/11 style attack happening again are slim to none. The next attack will come out of the blue and everyone will wonder why they hadn't thought of that before. Then watch all the stable doors being closed AFTER the horse has bolted again. The nanny society demands that we live in perpetual fear so that those that govern us and approve the rules can better control us. The rest of us have to put up with the bovine excrement and hundreds of thousands of people will never get a glimpse of what inspires us to do the job we do.

Roll on 2016. If it wasn't for the pay we'll be able to demand by then I'd have thrown the towel in long ago.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 11:02
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whats the big deal? as long as the captain didnt let the kids have a go with the controls. (a certain Aeroflot A310 incident comes to mind)
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 11:05
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Personally I dont see any problem here. I'm sure if the crew felt they were a distraction and were hampering their efforts to complete all their pre-landing checks in a suitable time frame, they would have asked the visitors to leave the flight deck. I'm also sure that the vice president of flight crew training is experienced enough to know when it was suitable to make a visit to the flight deck.

Its sad that pax are no longer allowed to visit the flight deck, my first memory of flying was a visit to the flight deck of an Air UK BAe 146 from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

As an aside, do airlines (pax or cargo) allow people to fly in the jump seat? I'm an ATCO (Mil) and wouldn't mind seeing what the cargo guys do on a shift
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 11:30
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fantaman, I don't see why mil ATCO's can't have the same privileges as civilian ATCO's do. In my airline we have exchange liaison visits with the RAF where we get to have a go in one of their jets and they come with us on a long haul trip on the jump seat. It just requires a letter from the relevant person to approve the flight deck jump seat.

The same applies to civilian ATCO's who want to experience our job from the jump seat. They need to get in touch with the company and make the request. Probably has to go through your own management first though.

The more on the flight deck, the merrier, I say!
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 11:31
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When I'm in Myanmar in the winter, we regularly jumpseat. It helps if we hand our business cards to the hosties. My misssus went up the sharp end of an ATR on our last trip and stayed for the landing. she came back raving about it- this is someone who 'humours' my interest in things flying normally
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 12:30
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How things change...

In the Middle-East airline where I learned the trade prior to 1990, the jump seat was where the overbooked/important last-minute passenger sat.

Last edited by old,not bold; 22nd Apr 2007 at 12:31. Reason: typo
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 12:59
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In many walks of life there need to be rules, but it's impossible to write rules that cover all eventualities. These days we seem to have a "rules are everything" attitude. People are becoming scared to do anything because they are afraid of breaking the letter of the rule rather than the spirit of the rule. I'm not sure what the solution is but perhaps a right to a defence of "reasonable behavior" is what's required?

It's interesting that our attitude to risk differs from country to country. I spent some time in Belgium recently and one winter we arrived at our kids school to find the teachers lighting braziers in the school playground. I think they were roasting Chestnuts. I can't imagine that happening in the UK where playing conkers is banned in some schools unless you wear gloves and eye protection.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 13:13
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Quite a while ago as a youngster of 18 I was allowed to sit in the jump seat all the way from the terminal at BNE to the terminal at SYD on an Air Niugini Airbus, an experience for which I am very grateful and will never forget. Such visits certainly help fuel the passion.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 14:05
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"In many walks of life there need to be rules"

I agree.
This has come about as a result of experience: Experience has shown it is a GOOD IDEA to have people perform some of their tasks/duties in a uniform way. These Good Ideas get formalised in to rules. Rules evolve just like airline SOP's or a countries national legislations.

The evolution of rules must, in my opinion, employ an understandable logic.
The same idea of logic that we are expected, indeed demanded to employ at every step of performing as pilots.

For me, this logic is missing in some areas of being a pilot today, particularly in the area of security. In one breath logic is demanded from us, in the next breath we are demanded not to seek logic.

This situation is a contradiction.
That contradiction requires patience to live through. Patience of course is demanded from us too. Indeed it is becoming of a professional.

By our contracts and as professionals we must adhere to the rules which are ushered in to enhance the security system - unless we have a very good reason not to. And no, "logic" is not a good enough reason. Yet we are aware of glaring weaknesses in that system every day we take part in it.
This is another contradiction.

The spirit of evolution means to me that things should improve year after year, decade after decade. This shoud be easily identified by looking at the system which has evolved. Some recent "evolutions" really leave me wondering....
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 15:20
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I think it should go back to pre-9/11 days. Lets face it then the hijackers gained access to the cockpits because they were threatening people & worse with weapons they had smuggled on board aircraft through security systems at airports which were - a little lax.

One of the first things said after a terrorist attack is: They must not win; we must not change our way of life / be scared / loose our freedoms.

And darn it but if after the attack the first thing our governments do is act scared put in draconian security measures and change our way of life.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 15:57
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I believe we could have some flexability with the 'Rules'
A couple of years ago I had my father as a passenger and he would dearly have liked to join me in the flight deck. But like all he is considered a threat after 50 years in aviation, having being an engineer, training captain and finally chief of air accident investigation. Oh, not forgetting him having the Legion Merit of Honour presented for his work on 'hostilities by terrorists against civilian aircraft'. Can he please visit the flight deck..................sorry NO!
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 16:09
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Pre 9-11 our company had the cockpit door open all thru the flight-great way to meet the people in back as many would just wonder over to have a chat. Now we can still let passengers up front during flight, however not during t/o n landing. I really miss the easy going attitude of the olden days. For the chap starting this thread CHILL OUT!!!!! Flying an airplane is not some kind of magic that needs total concentration for the whole flight. Let the kids enjoy it too! Hopefully it will be a lasting impression for them.

Last edited by virga67; 22nd Apr 2007 at 16:24.
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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 21:19
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Very sad state of play.

The bottom line should be.... " ITS AT THE CAPTAINS DISCRETION!"

At the end of the day "Trissha", he/she is carrying the can.

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Old 22nd Apr 2007, 21:55
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I fully understand "appropriate" security restrictions in this day and age, and none of us would want to see security compromised by having an "open cockpit" mentality.

I am a Senior Manager in airline ground handling. I was extremely lucky that in the first 10 years of my career I was welcomed into the cockpit on multiple jump-seat trips, including into a number of very interesting airports.....terrain, steep approaches, etc.

Aside from it being of great interest to me (as a participant in other aerial sports) it was also a great education......and critically I know that I am now a much better and stronger Airline Manager (ground services / operations) as a result of those experiences. I have very good understanding of flight ops issues, the workload during weather diversions and go-arounds, etc. and this is of huge benefit in my role, safety meetings, etc.

As I said at the beginning, none of us would want to see a degradation in the required security levels. However, I'd like to think that the management of the future (i.e. the youngsters in the industry today) would get the same opportunities as I had.....but sadly I don't think that is the case, and the industry will suffer as a result.

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