Can An Airline Passenger Land a Plane if the Pilot is Incapacitated?

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

11 News reporter Aaron Luna takes a flight above Grand Junction to test the story that if an airline pilot is incapacitated and can no longer fly, a passenger could steps in and takes control. Then with directions from air traffic control safely land the plane.

With help from Bradley Sullivan with the Colorado Flight Center, Luna was able to pilot a small Cessna around Grand Junction. While flying Sullivan explained the controls and how each movement helped steer the plane.

After a few minutes flying Sullivan allowed Luna to attempt a landing, with limited assistance.
“Alright I can see the runway, we are getting close,” said Luna. Sullivan continued his instruction, "So Aaron go ahead and pull the power completely to idle."

Luna throttled down and slowly floated to the runway. Sullivan kept giving calm instruction. "Just wait, just wait." After the plane touched down Sullivan said, "And it appears that we are down and safe on the runway."

Sullivan says about the landing, "I helped very little." But said if Luna was to try and land on his own without a pilot in the plane, and only verbal instruction, "With no experience and some basic coaching, it was a situation that was definitely survivable."

Proving that it is possible for an inexperienced passenger to land a plane in an emergency.

To learn more about the Colorado Flight Center click the link from this story.


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