I was watching a Captain Joe video (Can a PASSENGER land a PLANE?) and he mentioned that he left out the 20 minutes it took the person to even figure out how to communicate with ATC. It seems to me that with a little training, a crew member would be much more prepared to handle such a circumstance.

Even if it's just one pilot, I could see the benefit of having a crew member able to share the workload (communications, checklists, etc).

I was wondering if there are any airlines that provide pinch-hitter type training to flight attendants (even if it's just a classroom course) in case one or both of the pilots are incapacitated?

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    $\begingroup$ I flew for two commuter airlines and two 747 carriers. At none of them was this done nor was it ever contemplated to the best of my knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:04
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    $\begingroup$ Side comment: There are flight attendants who prepare for an airline pilot certificate, and some who are private pilots with IFR rating. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 26, 2017 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


This is generally not standard practice. For one pilot training is particularly costly (even just in small planes) and would simply not be worth it to the airline, which is why there are two flight capable people in the cockpit to begin with.

Historically speaking there is evidence to the fact that it would not alter the outcome of the scenario. The closest instance of this occurring was possibly Helios Airways Flight 522 which lost cabin pressure at altitude incapacitating the crew and most aboard. Flight attendant Andreas Prodromou who held a UK Commercial Pilot License (but was not trained on the B737) was able to remain conscious via a portable air pack and make his way to the cockpit and into the captains seat. However he was un-able to take positive (meaningful) control of the aircraft due to lack of experience investigators eventually concluded after the crash.

There have been some successful talk down landings of substantially smaller aircraft.

FWIW, most modern airliners are sophisticated enough and have the controls concentrated enough that they can be flown single handedly in a manageable fashion.


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