Croatia Airlines Investigates Pilot Instructor Who Left Cockpit during Flight

Total Croatia News

Instructor left his student alone in the cockpit.

Croatia Airlines has launched an internal investigation about the events on its flight on 30 October from London to Zagreb, when the co-pilot was left alone in the cockpit after the pilot, Josip Grgec, who is also the director of the company’s air traffic department, left the cockpit, reports Večernji List on November 17, 2016.

This violated security procedure that at least two people must be in the cockpit at all times. This rule was introduced after Germanwings’s co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in March 2015 intentionally crashed an airplane in the French Alps after being left alone in the cockpit. Lubitz took advantage of the fact that the captain went to the bathroom, locked himself in the cockpit and then crashed the plane and killed 150 people. Therefore, a security procedure was introduced which stipulates that, if the captain or co-pilot must leave the cockpit, one member of the cabin crew will enter the cockpit and stay there.

Grgec has been suspended pending an investigation. According to sources, the co-pilot who was left alone in the cockpit was a student pilot, who is part of the so-called Pay to Fly programme. The investigation was launched after the co-pilot released a video of what happen on social networks. The recording has since been deleted. The video clearly shows that the flight in question took place between London and Zagreb on 30 October and that the co-pilot was alone in the cockpit.

The Pay to Fly programme is a commercial pilot training program which Croatia Airlines introduced in 2014. Young pilots who have basic professional pilot’s license, but lack experience, can pay Croatia Airlines about 30,000 euros to acquire a sufficient number of hours of flight they need to be able to compete for a job in an airline.

For these 30,000 euros, pilot-students undergo training on ground and in a simulator, and then they learn to fly on actual aircraft. First they fly without passengers for about 40 minutes. Then fly 500 hours on regular routes of Croatia Airlines, with passengers on board. During this first 200 hours they are joined by a captain, another co-pilot and an instructor, while for the final 300 hours of the programme they fly just with a captain.


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