Delta Connection Pilot Locked In Bathroom Another Reminder Of 911


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Delta Connection Pilot Locked In Bathroom Another Reminder Of 911

By Mike Mitchell

November 17, 2011 - On Wednesday an Indianapolis based Chautauqua Airlines operating as a Delta flight departed Asheville, North Carolina for La Guardia International Airport, New York with 14 passengers. Upon approaching New York, ATC instructed the pilots flying the Embraer 145 commuter jet, Flight 6132 that they could expect a holding pattern before landing.  

The captain decided he would use the restroom before the final approach to landing. Because of FAA regulations requiring two people to be in the cockpit at all times the sole flight attendant entered the cockpit.  

When the captain tried to exit the bathroom the door lock got stuck he could not get it to open. A foreign speaking passenger heard the captain and tried to assist. He struggled with the door but without success. He then went to the cockpit door to notify the copilot of what was going on.  

The copilot refused to open the cockpit door even after the passenger gave the captain?s password for fear the aircraft was being hijacked, underscoring the fears flight crews and passengers still have more than a decade after 9/11. 

The copilot contacted air traffic control (ATC) and informed them the aircraft was at 10,000 feet, the pilot was locked in the bathroom and that a foreigner was tying to enter the cockpit with the captain?s password but the co-pilot and flight attendant were unconvinced.

Copilot contacts ATC ?We are 180 knots, 10,000 [feet], uh, can we leave the frequency for a minute, we are going to try to, uh, contact dispatch. The captain has disappeared in the back, and I have someone with a thick foreign accent trying to access the cockpit right now, and I've got to deal with this situation. The controller accepted the copilot?s request.  

The copilot returns to ATC frequency and reports ?Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit, and I'm not about to let him in. The controller reported back to the copilot "OK, Chautauqua, you guys ought to declare an emergency and just get on the ground." The controller issued vectors for the approach into La Guardia.


Within minutes the captain was able to get out of the bathroom and get back to the cockpit. He then contacted ATC and explained. ?I went back to the lavatory and the door latched, had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open? There is no issue, no threat." 

Chautauqua Airlines released a statement that stated the crew followed security rules correctly and that the flight was never in jeopardy. Both pilots on airliners are qualified to land the plane by themselves. The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the aircraft's captain and that no one was ever in danger, and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the captain, as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions.

Chautauqua Airlinesis a regional airline and a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It operates scheduled passenger services on more than 700 flights daily to 98 airports in 31 states through feeder services under the names American Connection for American Airlines, Continental Express for Continental Airlines, Delta Connection for Delta Air Lines, Frontier Express for Frontier Airlines, US Airways Express for US Airways, and operated as United Express for United Airlines. Chautauqua Airlines does not fly its aircraft in their own aircraft livery color scheme, but colors and branding of the airlines they serve. 

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