A passenger jet of Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines. Photo: WeChat
A passenger jet of Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines. Photo: WeChat

A pilot with Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines has been fined 12,000 yuan (US$1,756) and grounded for six months pending further disciplinary action after he seated his wife in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 jet on a flight that he commanded.

Chen Guosheng piloted Flight DZ6286 from Nantong in eastern Jiangsu province to Lanzhou in northwestern Gansu province, and the connecting flight from Lanzhou to Beijing on July 28, 2018. During the journey he reportedly allowed his wife, surnamed Wang, onto the flight deck on three occasions.

Chen was said to have ignored the strong dissenting views of fellow crew members and insisted on letting his wife into the cockpit.

Two co-pilots, a chief attendant and a security officer on board the flight also faced fines and were served warnings for their failure to “resolutely stop the severe violations,” the airline said.

The carrier apologized to passengers and pledged to review safety protocols and procedures for all its staff. However this only happened after China’s Civil Aviation Administration stepped in and made public the safety breach, which soon aroused anger in the media.

Some Internet commentators opined, however, that the senior flight purser should be rewarded rather than punished because she confronted a senior officer.

Before long, other professional violations by Chen came to light: on at least two separate occasions, he decided to initiate departure even though the actual passenger headcount on board was different from the flight manifest.

In a separate incident, a China Eastern Airlines flight was delayed on Tuesday after a passenger reportedly threw coins into one of the plane’s engines.

Flight MU5540 from Anqing in eastern Anhui province to Shanghai was delayed for two hours in order for the aircraft to undergo an emergency safety inspection.

A passenger of the affected flight told local media that the police were called soon after ground service staff spotted someone launching coins into an engine.

In a similar case in 2017, a China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou was delayed for more than five hours at Shanghai’s Pudong airport, after an 80-year-old passenger threw a handful of coins toward an engine. He claimed afterwards during police questioning that he only “flipped some coins to wish for a safe flight for all passengers”.

The elderly passenger went unpunished as it was his first ever air journey, but airlines now warn that throwing anything into an aircraft’s engine could lead to criminal charges.

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Chinese passengers are quick learners and are generally willing to cooperate with their flight crew. Photo: Weibo

But some other flyers from China have managed to generate a bad name for all sorts of loutish behavior.

Media reports in 2017 revealed that a giant Chinese state-owned conglomerate sent batches of its employees, more than 20,000 in total, for pleasure tours to Dubai. To do so the company chartered 77 Emirates flights – mostly Airbus A380 airliners, the world’s largest passenger jet. However serving these VIP guests turned out to be a nightmare according to airline flight attendants.

On one of the Dubai-Beijing chartered flights, more than a dozen passengers pressed the help buttons on their seats quickly after takeoff. Their needs ranged from wanting to know how to search for a TV drama on the inflight entertainment system to demanding their meals immediately.

After meals were finally served, many passengers did not have the patience to wait for the flight crew to collect their trays so they simply placed them in the aisles and near emergency exits.

However most of the passengers cooperated willingly when given gentle guidance from the flight crew, and showed themselves to be quick learners.

Announcements from Beijing saying that those found causing trouble and damaging China’s image will face stern punishment, including a ban on future travel, may help speed up the learning process.

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