Airline pilot pushes wrong button, nearly flipping plane

A co-pilot for All Nippon Airways mistakes the rudder trim button for the cockpit door lock switch. The plane goes almost belly up. Remarkably, no one is seriously hurt.

Who among us hasn't once pushed a wrong button, leading to embarrassment, pain or a very damp shirt at 7-Eleven?

However, who among us has been an airline pilot?

This question shivers through what remain of my timbers after discovering, thanks to the flighty crew at Gizmodo, that a Japanese pilot made such a vast error that he managed to nearly flip his Boeing 737-700.

Yes, the plane was flying 117 passengers at the time.

For lunch, pineapple upside-down cake. CC Dear Edward/Flickr

The Japanese Economic Newswire, which first reported this startling affair, explained that Flight 140 from Naha to Haneda rolled a little to the right and then a mere 131.7 degrees to the left.

While you try to persuade your Egg McMuffin to calm down, might I add that, at one point, the plane's nose was pointing 35 degrees toward Earth?

And what caused this frightening belly-upness? Why, the co-pilot was trying to let the captain back in from the restroom. He pushed what he thought was the cockpit door button. It turned out to be the rudder trim knob.

ANA has reportedly apologized for this vast and painful oversight. The co-pilot has been sent to solitary confinement and ordered to play video games for the next three years. (Actually, I made that last part up, though I'm sure that several of the passengers would have been delighted if it were true.)

No one was seriously hurt. Yet four passengers did reportedly claim to feel ill "later". I feel ill and this incident happened September 6.

I wonder if, perhaps, ANA has changed the colors on its buttons. Just, you know, to make the co-pilots' onerous task just a little easier.

 

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