Doofus Of The Day #535

Today’s award goes to the co-pilot of an All Nippon Airways Boeing 737, who last month came within a shaved hair of crashing the plane – because he confused a critical flight control with a door knob!

Flight NH140 from Naha had been cruising at 41,000ft, en route to Tokyo on 6 September, and had been some 43km south of Hamamatsu when the incident occurred.

Japan’s Transport Safety Board said the captain had stepped briefly out of the cockpit, but when he returned the co-pilot inadvertently operated the rudder trim control while attempting to let the captain back in.

The 737 banked slightly right, then twice rolled sharply to the left, achieving a bank angle of nearly 132° and “rapidly” pitching 35° nose-down, the inquiry board added.

It descended at high speed, losing 6,300ft before recovering at 34,700ft and climbing.

During the incident the aircraft, which had been on a heading of 052° north-east towards Tokyo, eventually stabilised on a south-west course of 257°.

. . .

While individual configurations differ, both the rudder trim dial and the cockpit door lock switch on the 737-700 tend to be located towards the rear of the centre pedestal between the two pilots. The door switch requires a turn to the left to unlock the cockpit entry.

There’s more at the link. Here’s a video reconstruction of the aircraft’s antics.

Apparently the passengers were trapped in their seats by centrifugal force during the violent maneuvers – which is just as well. If they’d gone flying about the cabin, who knows how many serious injuries might have resulted?



  1. and that is why you wear your seat belt while in the seat even if nothing is going on. Because you NEVER know what will be going on.

  2. At least it was a Boeing acft, not an Airbus… If it'd been and Airbus, it would have ripped the tail off and we'd be reading obits…

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