A report revealed that during an AirExplore flight on a Boeing 737, the captain of the Slovak charter airline briefly placed his son on his lap during a flight in July 2020.
The flight, which AirExplore operated from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Split, Croatia, at first went under the radar. However,after the captain reportedly published pictures of his son sitting in his lap during a flight on his Instagram profile, the incident was reported to the Slovakian Transport Authority (NSAT).
The airline had temporarily suspended the flight crew while it conducted an internal investigation, as reported by the Slovak daily newspaper Nový Čas.
“We have received information that the State professional supervision of the Transport Authority will be performed for the flight in question on the basis of an anonymous report,” Martin Štulajter, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AirExplore, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
“The mere fact that the child was allowed to enter the cockpit was not a violation of the then valid company procedures. The mistake occurred when the captain allowed his son to sit between his legs,” Štulajter added, noting that the controls of the flight were handed over to the First Officer. The captain, who was also a Type Rating Instructor (TRI) and a Type Rating Examiner (TRE), has since lost his titles, reported avherald.com.
Nevertheless, the pilot is still employed with the airline.
The incident is reminiscent of an Aeroflot flight SU593, which was operated using an Airbus A310 in March 1994. Then, the captain of the flight allowed his two children, a daughter and a son, to sit in the left-hand seat. The son accidentally de-activated the A310’s autopilot and the aircraft entered into a near-vertical dive. While the first officer was temporarily able to recover the aircraft, an overcorrection resulted in the stall and the Airbus A310 crashed, killing 75 people onboard (63 passengers and 12 crew members).