In accordance with 14 CFR §25.1523 and §121.385c3, commercial airline aircraft must be operated by at least two pilots. This provision mainly bases on workload and pilot incapacitation considerations (see §25.1523-1).

I am looking for any incident reports of events, in which the second pilot (irrespecive of rank) on the flight deck has corrected a (fatal) mistake made by the other pilot or discovered a failure of some sort which was not discovered by the other pilot, and thus averted an accident. So not the daily flight in which everything is normal, but those in which something went wrong which was then corrected by the second pilot.

Mostly, only events in which something goes wrong and which turn out as severe incidents or accidents are reported as such. These events are thoroughly investigated to learn from these events and make aviation safer. I am, on the other hand, interested in the other 99,99..% of events. Those events that are rarely reported, because everything turned out well in the end, "almost-accidents" that were prevented by the second pilot on board.

Besides the obvious pilot incapacitation events, can anyone recall any specific events / flights and direct me to the respective (official or non-official) report, i.e. by the U.S. NTSB, the French BEA, the German LBA, the British & Australian CAA, …?

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    $\begingroup$ It's going to be really hard (but not necessarily impossible) to find an answer, largely because the nature of aviation accidents is that one single mistake rarely is fatal - the Swiss cheese model. I suppose something as simple as a data entry error could bring down a plane, but if that was picked up in the normal pre-flight checks by the second pilot we wouldn't hear about it. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jan 25, 2017 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ Related: Error-challenging Strategies: Their Role in Preventing and Correcting Errors exploring the 1982 Potomac River accident. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Does that count: "When the A320 had reached about 110 KIAS the crew spotted the A330 crossing the runway edge, the first officer applied brakes briefly, the commander took control of the aircraft, applied TOGA and accelerated the aircraft to 130 KIAS then rotated the aircraft at 7.03 degrees/second rate and climbed the A320 over the A330"? (link) $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @mins Although I haven't checked the link you provided yet, that looks like what I am looking for, yes! Thank you! From that citation it looks like the action of the Captain has averted tragedy, and that the accident would have happened if he had not taken action. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan
    Jan 26, 2017 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ So I'm chained down on the carrier deck, sitting in co-pilot seat, and another taxiing aircraft starts sliding in high winds and heavy seas, heading for my prop. I feather the prop immediately, and the plane slides into my prop arc right after it stops rotating. No harm - no foul. The pilot (also PIC) would have never seen it. Does that count? $\endgroup$
    – MikeY
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


During the 2005 Logan Airport runway incursion, the First Officer noticed the other plane and realized that they could collide. Telling the Captain to "keep it down", he pushed the control column forward and passed under the other aircraft as it took off.

During United Airlines Flight 232, the actions of the flight instructor for the type, Dennis E. Fitch, brought in additional expertise that significantly contributed to success. E. Fitch joined the crew during the flight as an additional pilot.

On the day before Lion Air Flight 610 crash, that plane, already with problems, has been saved by off-duty pilot who correctly identified the problem (and suggested to disable the flight control system).

  • $\begingroup$ For the third example - I believe it wasn't just a suggestion - they were experiencing the problem, and he told them how to disable it - the pilots had not been trained to do so. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Mar 27, 2019 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like there was a post on Aviation.se about that off-duty pilot who solved the issue the day before the Lion Air 610 flight, but I can't find it anywhere. Can anyone else? $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Apr 5, 2019 at 18:17

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