23 April, 2024


SriLankan Airlines: Honeymooning Pilot Upsets Fellow Passengers In Flight

A newly married co-pilot of SriLankan Airlines travelling with his wife on flight UL 303 Singapore / Colombo on the 8th December 2016, has upset many fellow Business Class travelling passengers by waltzing in an out of the cockpit for both takeoff and also the landing during the flight.

A disgruntled passenger Rohan Eric Samuel an Engineer by profession, interpreting the co-pilot’s behavior in flight as a violation of the airline’s ‘Sterile Cockpit Policy’ set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, has formally sent in a written complaint to the Director General of Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka.SriLankan

Another passenger who travelled on the same flight and who requested anonymity said “Passengers travelling on the national carrier have been nervous since a Captain on Mihin Lanka (which was run by the national carrier then) was found fast asleep in the cockpit after his copilot had stepped out to go to the toilet. After a many attempts to gain re-entry into the cockpit, the co-pilot had to use the cockpit override entry system to gain access. Even then the captain was still found to be fast asleep at the controls. Similarly passengers get very nervous when civilians enter the cockpit during flight. In this case how would we know this couple was staff travelling in civvies? ”

Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the two passengers who were permitted the luxury of experiencing a takeoff and landing in the flight deck were a newly wedded First Officer and his bride who were travelling as passengers and occupying seats 3 H and 3 K in Business Class.

Passenger Rohan Eric Samuel had inquired from the operating Cabin Crew as to who these passengers were. “Nothing to worry Sir!” swiftly came the Flight Stewardess’ response. “They are Flight Officers travelling in civilian clothing” she said.

All airlines governed by ICAO were forced to implement and follow a strict ‘Sterile Cockpit Policy’ restricting the entry of non-operating crew into the cockpit, after the famous 9/11 terrorist attacks reshaped airline travel.

However SriLankan Airlines does have a facility extended to its staff where in the event flights are full, they are permitted to travel in the cockpit only whilst travelling on staff rebated tickets and that too only with the Captain’s consent.

Meanwhile most airlines practice a similar policy but permit staff to travel in the cockpit only in the event of a family emergency.

A member of the Airline Pilots Guild when contacted by Colombo Telegraph said “ This policy was initially approved by the Director General Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and the Head of Flight Operations of SriLankan Airlines authorizes all requests prior to it been conveyed to the operating Captain. Nevertheless it is only at the sole discretion of the operating captain that any staff member would be accommodated to finally travel in cockpit.

However in this instance it is still to be established if the First Officer had obtained prior authorization to travel in the flight deck.

A member of the Flight Attendants Union when contacted said, “Sometimes when pilots travel as passengers in civvies think they own the airline. If he was accommodated in the cabin then there is no reason why he should be waltzing in and out of the cockpit In Flight. The aircraft operated on this flight was a Airbus 320 and all movement in and out of the cockpit is very visible to other passengers in the Business Class cabin. It seems like this Co – Pilot was simply trying to muscle his way around in flight and show off to his new bride, since he himself is a pilot with the national carrier.

Meanwhile a frequent traveler on SriLankan Airlines speaking to Colombo Telegraph said “I have sat in the cockpit as a passenger on many occasions for both takeoff and landing. That is no big deal. I always check who the operating captain is whenever my family and friends travel. If the captain is known to me, I even get them to sit in the Flight Deck. SriLankan Airlines is also one of the few airlines in the world where you could smoke a cigarette in the cockpit in flight. That is if the Captain is also a smoker and is personally known to you”.

SriLankan Airlines CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte however continues to turn a blind eye to flight deck related safety concerns despite these issues been frequently reported in the media. Throughout his 25 plus years’ experience at Emirates Airlines, violations of the ‘Sterile Cockpit Policy’ and ‘smoking in the Cockpit’ are viewed as very serious issues which could eventually lead to termination of employment.

All attempts to contact the Director General CAA H.M.C.Nimalasiri for comment proved futile. (Janaka Ranaweera) 

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Latest comments

  • 18

    Waltzing Matilda & his wife.

    • 34

      Having a laugh.

      Take it easy, he was only trying to impress his newly wedded wife.

      Haven’t you ever done stupid things to impress your girl friend or your wife, on bicycles, motorbikes, cars, friend’s car, …. ?

      Men feel these machines are the extension of their Williy.

      • 3

        Go to the toilet for that!

        • 2


          “Go to the toilet for that!”

          On bicycles, motorbikes, cars, friend’s cars, planes, ships ….. and rockets.

          Try strapping yourself to a missile.

      • 6

        Maybe the bugger could not impress her on the honeymoon so he thought that he might be able to impress her from the Cockpit.
        Poor little girl. What a shame.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • 3


          You got a very valid point there.

          How would you verify your point?

      • 0

        Privileges of your profession and no doubt to impress his new bride.

        Let it go, there are many other things happening around us of which we should be more concerned of.

  • 36

    Honestly you buggers, isn’t there anything else you can write about.

    Making a mountain out of ‘nothing’.

    • 12

      visvajith – You must be a pilot trying to cover up the incident. I am
      sure you have heard about hijacking of planes by hijackers entering the
      cock pit, armed and order the operating crew to do what they want and
      many lives lost in the past.The travellers are aware and concerned about it.You are also aware that the civil Aviation authorities wanted
      all airlines to fix locks to the cock pit doors after many hijackings.
      The passengers who have witnessed the incident will have a second thought to fly Srilankan.

      It is not a joke as word will go around and future flyers may not use
      SriLankan due to lack of security on board. The question here is why the cock pit door was not locked when not in use by the operating crew.?

      • 2

        I am sure Vishwajith must have at least flown a Kite in his younger days though not an Airplane.But given his professional background I am sure he knows what this is all about ?

      • 2

        Lanka Watch, no I am not a pilot. In full disclosure I was a former employee at Airlanka and have at times sat in the ‘jump seat’ for landing/take off and one time a whole 12+ hours ( it’s darn uncomfortable ) as the flight was full and I was on duty travel back to base.

        As the article indicates, a flight deck sterile policy is in place and the commander at his discretion can wave it.

        So far, UL hasn’t had any crash or any hijackings. Things seem to work alright, so far.

        The organization can inform it’s future jump seat users to be discreet in accessing the flight deck. No ‘waltzing in and out’.

        This appears to be the beef.

      • 0

        Lanka Watch I agree with your views. UL is patronized by both locals and foreigners. It is a revenue making business, so customer satisfaction is of a paramount importance. We cannot lose customer confidence. Taking into consideration, the sorry state of affairs in the Sri Lankan airlines, since Moda Mahinda and his murderous bro Gota, scuttled and ruined the progress of the Sri Lankans hay days by cancelling the profit making partnership with Emirates and robbing the wealth of the country. Now all we have is to salvage and regroup and bring back to glory days. After a series of incident involving drunken local pilot reporting for duty under the influence of liquor, and many other silly incidents committed by UL staffs at the sales offices and BIA,the entire image of UL is not up to the standard and we cannot afford to lose these loyal customers. It is high time, discipline is strictly enforced and such hanky pan key nonsense are put to stop for the benefit of UL.

  • 19

    Until such time Capt. Rakitha Wickremanayake served as the Chairman
    of AirLanka, there was discipline maintained among the operating crew
    and the ground staff and he was able to maintain it as he was answer-
    able only to the then President JR and disciplinary actions he took
    were never questioned but today, its the other way around.The Pilots guild dictates terms to the board of management as to how to run the airline.
    The Captain of the flight should be asked the first question as to why the cock pit door was not kept locked as it is supposed to be locked up, when not in use, by the crew, using the combination lock. It may
    be fun for the off duty pilots,their girl friends and operating crews
    on Sri Lankan airlines but they should realise that a seasoned travel
    -ler is very watchful as who enters and exits the cock pit as travel
    -lers have security concerns in their minds until they disembark the flight and word will spread around like how CT got the news.

    Had the privilege of travelling in the business class due to the rank
    I held and did duty travel many times and observed during Capt.Wick’s period, the crew travelling on holiday travel, used to sleep it off and never visited the cock pit and have seen crews refusing meals and hot drinks, not even a can of beer, on board. There is a set of un-
    written rules the crew have to follow when traveling off duty and I presume this is not followed now. One should not identify himself or herself as a free traveller among the fare paying passengers on board the aircraft.

    • 2

      In my comments above, hot drinks should read as hard drinks……Regret

  • 15

    Ambude culture knows no rule of law.
    2500 years jayawewa.- please travel Lankan airways your life is safe.

  • 23

    In Banana Republic things go Bananas from top to bottom. Who cares !

  • 18

    This time national carrier’s pilots contribute with their extraordinariness towards Wonder of Asia

  • 2

    Are these newly wedded are old students of elite schools in Western,Central or Southern provinces.?

    Even after 1948 the eltism continues in many forms. That is Sri Lanka. It happens in other parts of the world as well.

    Even the piolots guild will argue that this incident is not a big deal as nothing happened to Sri Lankan Air Lines or Mihin Airlines or Air Lanka times during the JVP, LTTE insurgency times. Even the International groups like PLO or Al-Qaeda did not go into the cock pit and made a mishap .

    So what is the problem here ?

    Can Mahinda or Wimal or DJ claim that this sort of cock pit issues never happened during MaRa regime ?

  • 22

    What “Sterile Cockpit Policy ” are you taking about?As far as Srilankan is concerned it’s only policy is to have “No Policy”Otherwise how can it have a coffee shop owner as Chairman and a ordinery pilot who knows nothing of management as CEO?The airline has been a honeymooning place right through, it is has only progressively got worse.Passengers are paying to travel in a death trap.STOP flying Srilankan if you value your lives.A disaster is waiting to happen.

  • 1

    [Edited out]

  • 21

    Wow paranoid people travel on business class is it? Why didn’t they have balls to complain at that moment? Oh I keep forgetting that rich people want to seem nice and will always stab people in the back. Just imagine the honeymooning couple were muslims? We would be setting fire to their homes now.

    One of the most useless articles written. Whatever happened to investigative journalism. There’s no point having a few stupid articles in the middle of good ones to fill up your content. If you stick to a standard of quality in all articles perhaps you guys would be known as a consistent quality news company.

    Since of late most of your articles have sounded whiny, like as if a person who can’t stop complaint to their relatives about another relative keeps whining about. The information seems like heresay gossip being said by a whiny aunt about her ungrateful sister and her family problems.

    Where’s the quality people.. where?

  • 16

    Ppl have to be more careful . It is not a joke to play around in the cock pit. Many lives depend .

  • 13

    The cock-pit is a holy place in more ways than one.

    • 6

      Pygmation – You said it right. The pilots operating the flight should
      not be distracted so that they do not lose their concentration. Even
      the bus drivers do not get engaged in conversation with the passengers
      and they concentrate on their driving to avoid accidents and to maintain the schedules.

    • 5


      Synthetic “lowyer” Namal Rajapassa abused several “cock-pits” (a.k.a. “flying angels) during his father’s dictatorial regime !

  • 11

    Dear C.T.. I think this is personal vandeta of you with THE AIRLINE..I’m pretty sure none of the passengers would have even noticed this or even cared about it. Stop making bogus news just to get popular.

    • 17

      I would agree with you if CT talks about Emirates or Singapore Airlines. Try and fly to experience yourself with this terrible airline (Srilankan) and sure, the miserably rude, incompetent crew who will make sure you feel being part of a bovine community, especially if you are flying in econ.

      Be proud of CT’s transparency. If some other media like DailyMirror.lk, would not even dare to publish your negative comment

    • 5

      Isuru – Cannot understand as to why whistle blowers of wrong doings
      in the govt. sector & corporations come under heavy criticisms,instead
      they should be complimented and in this case Sri Lankan management should inquire and thank the person who reported the incident. We,the
      people must consider these reports as leads for betterment.

  • 9

    Now a days if it puts food ob their table, they will even sell their own mother.. Level of journalism #cheapthrills #ct

  • 16

    I hope the new wife did not attempt to handle the joystick while in the

    cockpit! It would have sent the plane in a spin.

  • 19

    Mr Rohan Eric Samuel and Daily Telegraph – please get your facts correct!
    1) On the concern date UL 303 was a A330, which was a wide-bodied aircraft.

    2) A320 doesn’t have seats 3HK as mentioned by you.

    3) In this wide-bodied aircrafts movements to and from the flight deck is not clear as you claim it to be

    These are the 3 facts which you base upon this article. As you can clearly see these information are false.

    Mr Samuel and editor of daily telegraph YOU ARE BOTH LIARS.

    Have you ever flown on a aircraft or was it a made believe story you’ll cropped up just to be popular and as well as sell your articles on the net!

    These folktales are worthy for everybody who has never seen let along fly on an aircraft!

    Please don’t tarnish the national carrier

    I’m eagerly awaiting for a reply!

    • 6

      The the root cause was why they violated the rules. If they was an emergency during landing and take off due to such distraction how many lives are in danger.don’t pick minor issues like seat nos and try to brush off the issue. SL is a lawless country. no one bothers

      • 5

        It is lawless for selected privilege people in the right profession or connected to Politicians!

    • 8

      Frequent flyer on UL- Before Mr. Samuel replies, pls reply following.

      1. Did not you know that Daily telegraph is a news paper published in
      UK and Colombo Telegraph is a web site, based in Sri Lanka.

      2. when did the UL customer Service manager’s title changed to UL Freq.

      3. were you on the flight in question to know that the aircraft operated was a AB330 and not AB320 as aircraft type some times changed
      due to no.of passengers booked at both ends and aircraft availability.

      4. Frequent flyers are not given seat plans and aircraft configuration
      charts at the time of booking so that they will know the seat nos. of
      all aircraft on UL fleet. How did you come to know that A320(There are different series) does not have seat nos. 3HK ?

      Mr. Samuel should be complimented for having brought to the notice of
      the management, the childish behaviour of the crew,& not to tarnish the
      airline but to improve the standard of service so that Sri Lankan will
      attract more customers. He must be a Sri Lankan and taken a patriotic
      action to promote the national carrier.
      Now over to Mr. Samuel for his reply to above….

    • 7

      Frequent Flyer On UL,

      Somehow you make me believe that you are a pilot hiding behind your your called name.Who is Daily Telegraph you are refering to?

      Its no rocket science to figure out that CT never said it was an Airbus 320, but the quote carried in the story that was given by a member of the Flight Attendants Union. Perhaps the A 320 does fly this route at times and hence the FAU member thinking that this particular flight was operated by an Airbus 320.
      The truth of the matter is that the complaining passenger says it was seats 3H and 3K which means it was an Airbus 330 that operated the flight.
      The bottom line is that no passengering staff should be waltzing in and out of the cockpit when travelling in civvies. Firstly it does not look professional and secondly it could lead to unpleasantness among other full fare paying passengers. The copilot and his wife should have merely sat in their seats and behaved like normal passengers.
      If he had authority to travel in the cockpit, it usually means when the flight is full. If he gets a seat in the cabin then he should remain in the cabin and not misuse the kindness extended to him by the management.
      The travelling public have every right to complain about any service they receive from the national carrier that is not up to the mark. After all even the passenger who complained contributes to keep this airline afloat and the co-pilot employed as well.
      It is up to the management of the airline to take this feedback and do something constructive with it.
      Sometime ago an Australian Prime Minister kicked the entire lot of pilots who went on strike out of the airline and also the former Prime Minister of Singapore made it extremely clear as to how he would deal with the pilots if they ever went on strike.
      Perhaps our management does not have the balls to deal with this current lot of pilots. They should be put in their place.

  • 3

    Sri Lankans have a very high inferiority complex, especially the so call educated and the high ones. When it’s any thing from the country, they look down at it. Don’t bring down this good airline. I have been a frequent flier since it’s inception, and before from the Air Ceylon days. Also flown in several other airlines from Europe, America, the Middles East as well as Asia, given it’s limited capabilities, they are doing a fine job for an airline of their stature. I knew, on many occasions, in my circles of known people in and out of the country who have flown it, both our countrymen and foreigners, highly commented it’s services. All airlines good and bad one, big and small ones, once in a while get into some hiccups, like weather, technical issues etc, it all part and parcel of their daily normal operations, these are unpredictable, and all travelers should learnt to face them.

  • 1

    So Lanka Watch, you were an employee at UL during Rakkhitha Wickramanayake’s time. You may be right about discipline but, he was a Dictator just like the President at that time JRJ. One of the main difference being that RW earned a lot on the side and helped along his stooges.

  • 4

    Mountain out of a mole hill here

    • 0


  • 0

    Very touching. As a pilot he must have been practising his touch and go technique.

  • 4

    Dear Lanka Watch,

    If I remember correctly, Rakkitha was the man who abandoned his airplane on the

    tarmac in Singapore or Malaysia, and left the airline thereby showing his

    contempt for his country, the airline and his evil boss JRJ.

  • 3

    The honeymooning couple where permitted by the operating captain.

    Remember, if the A320 went down its the end of all souls on board .
    So this was not a hostile take over or an hijack, I’m not belittling the concerns of fellow passengers at this irresponsible/immature behavior by the off duty first officer who abused a subtle discretion afforded on very special situations, purely at the call of the Chief.

    By now I hope his( newlywed first officer’s)wife will regret marring a totally self-centered, immature Jakass with a CPL.

  • 0

    What does he was doing
    Get your act together man.and behavior like gronup man.
    Have some Respect for yhe people who are around you.

  • 1

    In our villages we call this “pade weddilla karanawa”.Most of you have missed the salient point,that this company has much more grave issues beneath.Making losses is the theme song,There are areas we fail lock stock and barrel, Airport check-in,in selecting correct people to do the correct job, Selling in the competitive world,selecting people for key positions,not looking at the country’s interest but looking at only surviving in the loss making airline. This air line have never made profits even during Emirates time.Was a better product,during Air Lanka at least service was excellent.Today run by two parties, one wanting to sell the damn thing the other wanting to cripple the operations. Neither will happen. But the biggest cesspool is the airlines commercial department and the very reason for its downfall. They worry over processes rather than challenges and adventure.

  • 0

    His cock could not pit so he is showing off the cockpit. Try tablets.

  • 0

    Sterile Cockpit? Don’t be jealous if some one make use of it for an emergency landing.

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