I have read on a newspage that a passenger found an engine problem on the B767 before takeoff and requested staff to check it, while the airport claims the decision was made by the pilot.

I was wondering: Who has the right to do such decision. Will the engineers check the engine just because of a passenger's complaint?

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    $\begingroup$ I guess you can't just call the engineers and ask them to have a look. You tell the attendants, they tell the pilot, and the pilot asks for engineers. $\endgroup$
    – sweber
    Apr 22, 2015 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ If the aircrew disagree that anything needs checking I doubt they would delay the take-off to ask the engineers for a check. The authority is with the aircraft captain, not with the SLF. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2015 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ Seriously funny comment thread on that article! Worth the read just for that!! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Apr 22, 2015 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ I reported an issue once - thickish fluid in small volume trickling down engine outer and flicking off into space. Air hostess took it on herself to crawl over seats and look out window first to confirm my report before 'taking it upstairs'. I was careful not to let any other passengers hear my report to her. Many people were aware that she was checking out what I had reported when she did it. We proceeded. I'm still here :-). $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2015 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to raise an issue re passenger safety (notionally comfort but temperatures during a very long delay in sydney in summer has window seat temperatures at heart attack level for some with very hot air being pumped out of the vents. I suggested to a steward that he suggest to the captain that the middle doors be opened. He told me that this was not technically possible as under full passenger/baggage/fuel loading the aircraft would be excessively stressed. Later - maybe a very hot hour - they opened the middle doors to load more whatever (maybe food?) Lying to passengers is apparently ... $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2015 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


I guess this will vary from airport and scenarios. Say if you are in a small Cessna on a little grass-strip: They will most likely always listen to you. However, In a passenger jet, on a busy airport: Things fast get a little more complicated. It is very expensive for an airliner to hold a plane, and even more to ground it. And it affects more people than it would with the Cessna scenario.

If you tell, say the flight attendant while the plane is rolling down the taxiway that you hear abnormal sounds: They will likely misinterpret you as nervous and will most likely ignore it. But if you can somehow socially convince them: It is still the captain that makes the end decision about turning around.

I don't know if this has actually happened before other than in the article mentioned in the question.

If there is something wrong about the plane: The captain will likely know well before you do. The engines have so many sensors and fail-safes that the captain will likely have the fault displayed in the cockpit before you even notice something unusual, and he will probably make the decision before you even reach a flight attendant.


Some times the cases are black and white like this one where its very obvious that something is wrong (fuel is pouring out). But this brings up the question of "how do you know something is wrong with the engine?". I will admit that I know a fair amount about airplanes and avionics but I would not be able to identify an engine issue (on a jet) shy of something obviously visibly wrong. Then, as mentioned you would have to convince the crew that you knew what you were talking about. If we think about the scenario its clear that there are 2 pilots on board (who are presumably more qualified on the matter than you). 2 Pilots who should have done preflight checks and an airline that should be monitoring the use and time on its engines. So who are you to say there is anything wrong. That being said if you think there may be an issue(and have some decent grounds to think so) you should always say something as its better safe than sorry.


The pilot in command always has the final decision. Of course, an unruly passenger can always force a return to the gate. This does not mean, however, that the plane will be checked over. In general, the PIC will be glad to be alerted to any anomaly, but a passenger has no authority to demand a plane be mechanically examined.

According to a followup article, the claims that the passenger first noticed the problem were wildly exaggerated, and, in fact, according to TransAero the crew was already working on the problem when the women complained and her actions made no difference to the process. Yet another shaggy dog story?


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