How a 737 basically flew upside down because of pilot error

An All Nippon Airways passenger plane carrying 117 passengers on board experienced a little bit of a scare earlier this month. Why? Because a numb-brained pilot accidentally almost made a Boeing 737-700 fly belly up, as in upside freaking down.

A 737 is not a freaking stunt plane. It shouldn't be barrel rolling, belly upping in the sky—especially with passengers on board. Amazingly everyone is safe, only two flight attendants were hurt and only a few passengers complained about feeling weird (it was obviously stomach turning).

Here's what happened: the co-pilot mistook the rudder trim knob for the cockpit door lock switch so when he "opened the door" for his captain, he actually caused the jet to roll and drop 1,900 meters in 30 seconds. According to internal investigations, "the narrow-body aircraft continued to roll until it reached 131.7 degrees to the left, leaving it almost belly-up. Its nose pointed down as much as 35 degrees at one point."

It's a dumb move on the co-pilot's part and one that could've possibly ended in disaster. Everyone on board is lucky to be alive. [TMCnet, Image Credit: Shutterstock/Ilja Mašík]

How a 737 basically flew upside down because of pilot error

Update: Thanks to Gizmodo reader, Randy, we have more information on how this happened. As you can see in that picture, the rudder knob and the cockpit door lock switch are no more than 10cm apart. Unlocking the door (the small knob) and moving the rudder left (the big knob) is the same direction.


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