Air New Zealand pilots stood down after mid-flight cockpit lockout

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 4:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 4:46am


Air New Zealand has stood down two pilots after an incident in which the airline said the first officer was locked out of the cockpit during a flight from Australia.

The incident on a Perth-Auckland flight on May 21 followed "some tension" between the pair, after departure was delayed when the first officer had to undertake a random drug and alcohol test, the airline said.

"This departure delay frustrated the captain who prides himself on operational efficiency," airline official Errol Burtenshaw said yesterday.

During the overnight flight, the first officer left the flight deck for a comfort break and then had coffee with a cabin crew member in the galley area.

When he tried to return to the cockpit the crew member spent up to two minutes attempting to call through to the captain to advise that the first officer was at the hijack-secured cockpit door, but the calls were not answered.

"The captain did not respond or open the door because he was approaching a navigational waypoint and in his cockpit monitor saw a cabin crew member rather than the first officer ringing," Burtenshaw said.

"The first officer became concerned that the captain did not answer the calls and used an alternative entry method to gain access."

Burtenshaw said the airline investigated the incident and submitted a report to aviation authorities.

The captain was stood down for two weeks and the first officer for one week. Both had counselling and additional training, Burtenshaw said. The cabin crew, who "became quite anxious" about the inability to contact the captain, were also offered counselling.