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Wed 26 Jun 2013 08:23 AM

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Woman dressed as pilot gains access to Dubai flight cockpit

Australian and International Pilots Association has lodged a complaint over Qantas plane incident

Woman dressed as pilot gains access to Dubai flight cockpit
(Getty Images)

A ground crew worker dressed as a pilot spent several hours in the cockpit of a Qantas flight from Dubai to Sydney, it has been reported.

The female navigations worker was dressed in a pilot’s uniform and was given access to the cockpit, according to a letter of complaint from Richard Woodward, vice president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, due to be sent to Qantas, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

"It was stupid. She was sitting in the cockpit for a large percentage of the flight. I think it was naive and silly. It takes a lot of work to become a professional pilot," Woodward was quoted as saying, adding that the woman was given a pass to gain access to the cockpit.

"We're examining precisely why this happened, however it's clear that the staff member was on the flight deck for operational reasons and was not in any way trying to deceive the flight crew, who knew the staff member wasn't a pilot," a Qantas spokesman said.

"The staff member had the proper security clearance and appropriate documentation to be on the flight deck and there is no suggestion of improper behaviour on the aircraft."

Qantas signed a groundbreaking partnership with Dubai’s Emirates Airline in March, amid claims it would provide customers with the best network coverage and access to lounges and frequent flyer programmes.

However, in the first month, Qantas International carried 463,000 passengers compared to 496,000 in April last year.

Its load factor, a key indicator of the airline’s profitability, also fell from 82.1 percent to 77.8 percent.

In a statement to Arabian Business, a Qantas spokesperson said the downturn was not surprising because there was some uncertainty surrounding the alliance, which was only confirmed on March 27 when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission granted approval.

The alliance means all of Qantas’ European flights now operate via Dubai. That has caused some angst among Australians who fear passengers may unwittingly get into trouble due to the emirate’s more conservative laws.

There also was some backlash against the airline’s decision to ban pork on its menu following the move to Dubai.

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