Sorry, this is going to be another meta question about these two:

Pilot passed out in a small GA plane. What can a passenger do?
Can a passenger realistically replace suddenly incapacitated pilots?

(Full disclosure: I am biased, I currently have the accepted answer on the former)

The way I see it the latter question is asking about a theoretical situation (It even opens with "Yes, this is a question from the movies"). Even though the title uses the word "realistically", I don't believe anyone realistically believes a layman could fly a jet liner.

The former question is asking for practical, realistic things an inexperienced, but enthusiastic* person could do in an emergency situation.

It saddens me that the former question is very close to be closed as a dupe of the latter. I would much rather see good, practical information on this site than whimsical, movie-related, thought experiments.

What are your thoughts?

* has some experience on a sim, has flown in a GA aircraft a few times, understands some practicalities of flight


1 Answer 1


For me, those questions are essentially asking the same thing: what can a passenger do in the case of pilot incapacitation? However, the first one is asking about a passenger (presumably in the right seat) in a light single-engined aircraft and the second one is asking about an airline passenger.

I think those scenarios are different enough that they should be separate questions: the actions in one case won't be the same as the other. For one thing, in the airliner scenario you have a lot more resources available: cabin crew (who should take charge of the situation anyway), other passengers, extensive cockpit automation etc. In a light single you might not even have a radio.

As for practical vs. theoretical, the GA scenario is practical enough that AOPA has an online course for it; the airline scenario is so wildly improbable (even considering Helios 522) that there isn't much point in worrying about it. In other words, those two scenarios are inherently practical and theoretical. Practically speaking, that is :-)

  • $\begingroup$ Ok, so you're just agreeing with me right? Both questions should remain open, and one is paractical whilst the other is (mostly) theoretical. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Sep 4, 2015 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Yes, exactly. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Sep 4, 2015 at 15:34

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