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FAA Investigates Post Showing Coach in Cockpit

Airline benches pilots who were handling charter flight
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2024 5:10 PM CDT
FAA, Airline Look Into Video Showing Coach in Pilot's Seat
Colorado Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens chats with players before a game Saturday in Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The FAA is investigating "some fun in the cockpit" after a Colorado Rockies coach posted a video showing him apparently sitting in a pilot's seat during a team flight. United Airlines also is investigating what happened on the April 10 charter flight from Denver to Toronto and pulled its two pilots from service for now, the Wall Street Journal reports. The airline said the cockpit visit took place while the plane was at cruise altitude, with autopilot engaged, per KUSA, and called it "a clear violation of our safety and operational policies."

Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens posted the video, ESPN reports. "Had some fun in the cockpit on our flight from Denver to Toronto," his caption read. "Thanks to the captain and the first officer of our United charter that allowed me this great experience." A pilot could be seen in the other seat, and Meulens could be heard joking that he was going to land the plane, per USA Today. The Instagram post has since been deleted. Federal regulations limit the people who can enter the cockpit; the rules were tightened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The FAA confirmed that it's investigating but otherwise didn't comment.

Pilots have said the atmosphere on team charters can be casual, partly because there are fewer security worries, and crews often interact with professional athletes. But United's rules and FAA regulations still mandate that charters be conducted the same way commercial flights are. The cockpit door is supposed to stay closed, per the Journal. The airline's pilots union recently called on members to be especially conscientious and not stray from United procedures. (More FAA stories.)

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