Pilot Flying As An American Airlines Passenger Caught On Video Texting During Takeoff

Where there are rules, there will inevitably be people who break them. But it’s still surprising when someone who’s tasked with enforcing those rules is instead doing exactly what they usually tell others not to do. That was the case for a man flying on American Airlines recently, who filmed an airline pilot traveling as a passenger on a flight from Charlotte to Tampa texting on his cellphone during takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration has eased up on the use of electronic devices while planes are in flight, but travelers are required to put their phones in airplane mode if their gadgets are turned on.

The man who shot footage on the Aug. 14 flight had his own phone in airplane mode while shooting the video, reports the Charlotte Observer, and says he was at first annoyed, and then disturbed to see a pilot flouting federal regulations.

After landing in Florida, the passenger wrote a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker to express his concern.

“I am sure he is a good pilot, but even a small lapse in judgment in his profession can get people killed, and it bothers me that he can so casually disregard FAA regulations in the public view,” he wrote. “I fear what he may be doing in the cockpit that could jeopardize passenger safety.”

American Airlines said the pilot works for another airline, but didn’t say which one.

“I do know the other airline addressed the issue with the pilot,” an American Airlines spokeswoman told the Observer. “If someone is concerned about what another passenger is doing, notify the flight attendant so they can address it when it happens,” she added.

Again, if this was a video of some guy who doesn’t fly planes for a living texting away, it likely wouldn’t be in the news. But the man who filmed the video says it got his goat especially as he’s been told in the past to turn his phone off entirely during takeoff.

“I started thinking, ‘They’ve got these rules in place for a reason,’” he said. “… The pilots, more than anyone, should know those rules and obey them.”

Pilot caught texting during takeoff from Charlotte [Charlotte Observer]