Other members of the flight crew have been banned indefinitely pending further investigation. 

By Alison Fox
November 05, 2019

A Chinese pilot has been banned for life after he let a woman take a photo of herself in the cockpit earlier this year. And executives of the airline are facing consequences following the backlash.

The photo, which was taken in January, but came to the attention of the airline over the weekend, was spotted on a Chinese social media site by an aviation blogger and appears to have been taken mid-flight, according to CNN. In the photo, the woman is smiling and holding up a peace sign while posing in front of a tea set.

“[I am] super thankful to the pilot! I am really so excited," the woman’s photo caption read. The photo, which was posted on Weibo, has reportedly been deleted. 

The airline, Air Guilin, confirmed that the photo was taken during a flight from the city of Guilin to Yangzhou on January 4 and that other members of the flight crew have been banned indefinitely pending further investigation in addition to the pilot’s lifetime ban.

But the airline didn’t stop there: the chairman, general manager, and safety director were subject to salary cuts and warning letters, according to an internal airline document obtained by the state-run Beijing Youth Daily and reported by CNN on Wednesday. 

The woman who took the photo was later identified as a third-year student at the Guilin Tourism University who had goals of becoming a flight attendant, according to the South China Morning Post. She was reportedly in a relationship with the pilot, according to CNN. 

"We will enhance our rigorous safety guidelines, to avoid incidents like this from happening again," the airline said in a statement to CNN, adding that they have a “zero tolerance policy” for anything that could “endanger air safety.”

In the U.S., federal regulations issued by the FAA ban pilots from using smartphones for personal use during a flight, unless they have received permission in advance.

This isn’t the first time pilots have been banned after causing drama in the cockpit. Last year, an Iraqi Airways pilot and first officer were barred from flying after they got into a fight over eating on the plane.

And in October 2018, a Japan Airlines co-pilot was fired and sentenced to 10 months in prison after he was found with a blood alcohol content nearly 10 times the legal limit for a pilot just 50 minutes before a 10-hour flight was scheduled to take off.

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