May 27th, 2024

U.S. FAA to probe baseball coach in cockpit during a flight from Denver to Toronto

By The Canadian Press on April 19, 2024.

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. Authorities in the United States are investigating after a video surfaced on social media of a Colorado Rockies coach sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft "at cruise altitude." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

LOS ANGELES – Authorities in the United States are investigating after a video surfaced on social media of a hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft “at cruise altitude,” while bound for Toronto.

A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration says an investigation is underway but it will not comment further while the process is ongoing.

The comments come after a post on social media platform X showed a video allegedly taken from the Instagram account of Rockies hitting coach Hensley Meulens, showing a man who appears to be Meulens sitting in the pilot’s seat on an active flight.

The Instagram post, which has been taken down, included a caption that said “the captain and the first officer” of a United Airlines charter flight allowed the poster to sit in the cockpit during the Denver-to-Toronto flight.

In a statement, United Airlines confirmed the video appears to be taken from an April 10 charter flight from Denver to Toronto and may have shown “an unauthorized person in the flight deck at cruise altitude while the autopilot was engaged.”

The airline also says it is “disturbed” by the content of the video and has taken the pilots who were allegedly involved out of service.

“As a clear violation of our safety and operational policies, we’ve reported the incident to the FAA and have withheld the pilots from service while we conduct an investigation,” United says.

The Rockies were in Toronto to play the Blue Jays in a three-game series between April 12 and April 14.

The Major League Baseball team did not immediately return a request for comment.

U.S. regulations say no one can be admitted to the flight deck of an aircraft unless the person is a crew member, an authorized inspector, a certified individual advantageous for safe operations or someone who has the pilot’s permission in emergencies “in the interest of safety.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

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