Somehow, a variation of How do long-haul pilots cope with boredom? .

Has it ever happened that the pilots started some small talk about politics, or football, or favourite rock band, or that one cheated with the other's SO, and the discussion degenerated in some strong arguments, if not a fight? Is there anything in place to prevent that (like, procedures on what you're supposed to talk about during free moments)?

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    $\begingroup$ In the 100+ years of aviation history? Yeah, it's happened. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ It certainly went far beyond a strong disagreement and didn't come out of small talk, but FedEx 705 was a very serious fight in the cockpit. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2016 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ @ZachLipton One of my former managers jumpseated with Auburn Calloway about 2 weeks before that incident. Said he was really arrogant and made a couple of minor errors during the flight that the captain questioned. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ "My StackOverflow is better than your StackOverflow" /sorry $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 7:23

2 Answers 2


I've never seen anything about pilots fighting during the flight but on Air India 611 they fought before the flight then proceeded to fly anyway. There are differing accounts of whether it was physical or just verbal. The captain claims he was punched for calling his older copilot "uncle."

On Express Jet 4453 apparently they got into such a heated argument that when they landed, the flight attendant made the passengers disembark. They continued on in a different plane with a different flight crew.

There are reports of a fight between pilots on a China United Airlines flight but finding out what actually happened will be difficult.

On JetBlue flight 191 the captain started ranting and raving to the point where flight attendants and passengers had to remove him and physically restrain him for the duration of the flight. There's video of the incident. He was charged with interfering with a flight crew but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

And on Delta 2598 the pilots did an emergency landing when two flight attendants got into a brawl.

  • $\begingroup$ Flight attendants do seem to lose it from time to time: theblaze.com/stories/2012/03/09/… Although to be fair, that was right after Chapt 11, and right when the AA had filed to cancel the union contracts. $\endgroup$
    – OSUZorba
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ That's a great amount of interesting stories, thanks! But apart from common sense, there are no regulations trying to prevent this kind of things from happening? (Maybe they won't make a difference anyhow, but...) $\endgroup$
    – peppe
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ As you mention, a regulation wouldn't make any difference - people angry enough to fight are already ignoring the law, company regulations, social norms etc... one more rule wouldn't have any more effect than the others $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @OSUZorba Chapter 11? Did AA file for bankruptcy? $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea of regulations, though. I have a mental picture of two pilots getting into a brawl, and at the very last moment, one of them says, "hey, wait a minute, I totally forgot about FAR §91.42 'Two pilots shall not argue on the flight deck'", and they just sit down and resume smalltalk :-D $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2016 at 13:20

In addition to the examples TomMcW cites, the final report into Germanwings lists on pp 72-73 several related incidents. The list includes the JetBlue 191 mentioned by TomMcW. Similar events occurred on a Egypt Air flight in 1999 where the relief co-pilot flew the aircraft into terrain despite the captain trying to override his input (on a non-fly-by-wire aircraft), and on a Royal Air Maroc flight in 1996, and a Japan Airlines flight in 1982. In all of those cases, the cause was (or was suspected to be) a psychiatric problem rather than a simple argument.


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