Pilot banned for life after giving woman the okay to sit at controls during flight

HONG KONG — File this under dumb things people have done while on the job.

A Chinese pilot has been banned for life from flying duties after allowing a female passenger to sit in the pilot’s seat mid-flight.

The unnamed pilot may have even gotten away with the obvious safety breach had it not been for the photo the woman posted on China’s Weibo social network, which clearly shows her sitting in front of the controls and offering a peace sign for the camera.

CNN reports that the incriminating photo was first spotted by a Chinese aviation blogger, who was able to determine that it was taken on an Air Guilin plane. Soon after, the female passenger – who according to the state-run People’s Daily is an aspiring flight attendant – deleted her photo from her Weibo account but not before it went viral.

Air Guilin has since confirmed that the incident took place on a flight from Guilin to Yangzhou on Jan. 4. It has suspended the pilot from flying duties for life for violating civil aviation rules, as well as banned other members of the flight crew indefinitely, pending further investigation, reports CNN.

In a statement, the airline said it had a “zero tolerance policy towards any unprofessional and improper acts that could endanger air safety.” It also added that it will “enhance our rigorous safety guidelines to avoid incidents like this from happening again.”

The pilot’s fly ban only applies to Air Guilin, however, so it’s possible that he may take to the skies again, but with another airline. An Air Guilin representative told the Beijing Youth Daily that if the pilot were to apply for a job with another airline, it’d be up to that carrier to decide whether to hire him as every airline has its own rules in place.