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332 MPH fly-by at 28 feet in a Boeing 777-300ER  (Source: Liem Bahneman)

First comes the champagne, then comes the axe.  (Source: Telegraph)
Cathay Pacific pilot fired for 28 foot fly-by in a brand new Boeing 777-300ER

When it comes to American commercial airliners, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has received the majority of the press for the past two years. The 787 uses advanced engines and composite materials to achieve remarkable fuel economy for an aircraft its size.

However, the older Boeing 777-300ER is making news due to the actions of one daring pilot. Captain Ian Wilkinson decided to make the most of the maiden voyage of the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER by showing off the capabilities of the aircraft.

Captain Wilkinson made a 332 MPH pass of the airport control tower at a height of just 28 feet. Onboard the aircraft were Cathay Pacific airline executives who were "stunned into silence", while on the ground stood cheering ground crew.

"We heard afterwards he was asked to do a fly-by of the factory and decided to give them a flight they would never forget," said one Cathay Pacific inside. "But why he chose to do it with the chairman on board is anyone's guess."

Passengers and the flight crew of the brand new 777-300ER toasted Captain Wilkinson with champagne after the fly-by. That might have been the end of the event if it weren’t for the Internet -- a video of the low fly-by found its way to YouTube and Wilkinson soon was suspended, and then later fired for his actions.

"If no one else had found out about it, the incident would probably have gone no further, but once it began circulating on the internet and Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Authority got hold of it, that was the end of him," said a senior pilot for Cathay Pacific.

Captain Wilkinson, who has lived in Hong Kong for the past 15 years, is said to be considering an appeal of his termination -- considering that Wilkinson was pulling down nearly $500,000 USD a year as a pilot, it a near certainty that he will go through with the appeal.

"Wilkinson was showing off, and most of the pilots might be sympathetic, but they feel that he got what he deserved when he was sacked," added Cathay Pacific senior pilot who wished to remain nameless.

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RE: Good show.
By Polynikes on 2/25/2008 11:08:18 AM , Rating: 5
I'd hire him. Clearly he knows what he's doing.

However, if he pulled another stunt like that, I'd push to get his license revoked.

RE: Good show.
By Mitch101 on 2/25/2008 11:31:05 AM , Rating: 5
Considering how much publicity this is getting because of him they should give him a raise.

When you put the top people on a plane like this you put your best pilot in charge. They should have more faith in the pilot of their plane. Instead they are showing they have fear in their pilot and planes ability/quality.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/2008 11:45:39 AM , Rating: 1
In most businesses endangering lives for no reason is frowned upon.

RE: Good show.
By TheDoc9 on 2/25/2008 12:01:11 PM , Rating: 3
I actually agree with mitch101 on this, it ALWAYS better to have a balsey attitude then one of submission. And honestly I highly doubt there best pilot was putting anyone in serious danger although anything is possible esp. if he has a big ego.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By pauluskc on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By Ringold on 2/25/2008 7:31:55 PM , Rating: 3
Do you know what "fun" is?

Should of he been fired? Probably. Does he deserve your level of disdain? Not at all.

Besides, you should see a few of the tricks they do with business jets at the NBAA convention.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/26/08, Rating: 0
RE: Good show.
By fleshconsumed on 2/25/2008 12:24:22 PM , Rating: 5
What Mitch said is true though. Regardless of how you view the low fly by stunt - whether you think it was a testament to the pilot skill or just reckless behavior, they could have turned it into a great publicity effort as in "we are so confident in our pilots that we trust them with our lives" sort of stuff. Instead they just sent a message that their pilots are immature show offs.

RE: Good show.
By glenn8 on 2/25/2008 12:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree with that. This isn't Hollywood. In real business bad publicity is bad publicity. Companies like this don't need to rely on gimmicks. Even his fellow pilots said that he was just showing off and got what was coming to him.

RE: Good show.
By jbartabas on 2/25/2008 1:27:38 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I'm sure that millions of people who simply hate flying but do it because they have to will now fly Cathay Pacific whose pilots clearly wipe their a*** with regulations or basic safety principles just to show off. Great publicity indeed ...

RE: Good show.
By KristopherKubicki on 2/25/2008 1:40:12 PM , Rating: 4
Cathay was founded by ex-U.S. aces after WWII. This is in their blood.

I've seen much more asinine stuff, but I don't condone this either. The guy had to know he was going to get fired for doing this. Of course, it's possible he didn't care either -- that ace mentality again :)

RE: Good show.
By eye smite on 2/25/2008 4:32:50 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sure he did care at a half million dollars a year salary. I'm betting he didn't think he'd get the reaction he did much less suspended and then

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
But was it for no reason? It obviously raised the spirits of the ground crew and passengers, promoted confidence and ability in their new plane.

Until management caved to public opinion and in effect reversed that by saying they lacked confidence.

RE: Good show.
By maverick85wd on 2/25/2008 4:32:28 PM , Rating: 3
my favorite line:
"But why he chose to do it with the chairman on board is anyone's guess."
... LOL!

Personally I would pay a little extra to be on a plane piloted by this guy, especially if he got ballsy with passengers in the plane . He obviously knew what he was doing, and I think routine airline flights are pretty boring. :-D

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/2008 5:44:05 PM , Rating: 1
if you have a deadwish - hang yourself (or pay someone to do it for you) - dont do it by stunting with an 250 million, 100+ton, fully feuled airframe

RE: Good show.
By Mitch101 on 2/25/2008 6:18:24 PM , Rating: 2
Your assumption is that the Pilot is suicidal. I'm sure he knows the limits of the aircraft and didn't feel he was pushing the craft beyond its limits.

If there was any indication he has suicidal tendencies then he wouldn't be allowed to pilot a plane of this expense carrying these members.

I think this shows that Cathay Pacific airline executives need to grow a pair or again have more faith in the plane and pilot.

I would love to go up in a real plane with one of these guys.

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
This hardly qualifies as stunting. It's a basic maneuver. He was flying straight and level with a gradual descent and climb out.

When they do this, you slap them on the wrist, maybe give them a little fine, to make sure they don't get too out of hand. And life goes on.

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
Instead they are showing they have fear in their pilot and planes ability/quality.

Based on the article it sounds like they are reacting to public opinion, or fear of public opinion. Not the event itself

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/25/08, Rating: -1
RE: Good show.
By Ringold on 2/25/2008 7:42:55 PM , Rating: 3
He violated airspeed rules, those exist for traffic separation, noise abatement, and to a lesser degree, ground obstacle avoidance. It's entirely possible he exceeded no performance limits and remained within the expected descent and departure routes. Unless he pitched up extremely hard at the end, and it doesnt look like he did, I seriously doubt he even came close to the performance envelope.

Not that it was safe, definitely not smart, but it wasn't a flying nuclear bomb.

If you had any idea how many planes are in the air every day above the United States with pilots aboard with less then 500 hours, even less then 100 hours experience you'd probably wet your pants based on all this fear mongering.

RE: Good show.
By 306maxi on 2/27/2008 5:10:35 PM , Rating: 1
You clearly don't have an idea what he's doing...... have you ever flown an aircraft? Probably not! Why don't you leave the discussion to people who understand the issues at work here. IMHO he wasn't behaving that irresponsibly but that's just me.

RE: Good show.
By Veedee on 2/28/2008 8:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you leave the discussion to people who understand the issues at work here

Ok why don't you. Here's something for you that you probaby didn't consider. For this numbnuts to do the flyby, gear up at 300 knots, no flap with all the GPWS warning systems he has on board as well as his ECAM and EFIS restrictions, he had to turn off critical warning systems and fly the plane by hand. Now I don't know if you have any idea what those acronyms stand for and frankly I don't give a rat's %@#. This idiot not only violated a large number of FARs but put himself, his passengers and even those cheering fools on the ground at great risk. Another point, since he most probably turned off his GPWS system, he had no idea how far his tail was off the ground. Figure it out dude. How far is he from the tail, what is the angle of attack of the aircraft as well as the deck angle and how long is the jet. He had no clue and was just a lucky SOB. As for leaving the discussion to those that know what they are talking about, I think you better make like a tree and GTFO.

RE: Good show.
By ikkeman on 2/29/2008 11:39:58 AM , Rating: 2
You clearly don't have an idea what he's doing

I have flown and do fly - smaller aircraft to be sure, but still.
I'm an aeronautical engineer. I constantly read about mishaps, incidents and accidents caused by pilot bravado or ignorance.
What's your claim to knowledge???

IMHO he wasn't behaving that irresponsibly but that's just me.

He either was or was not behaving irresponsibly. If he was behavining irresponsibly he was behaving unprofessionally. When you stop beeing a professional when piloting a potential weapon of mass murder - you deserve whatever you get (within the law)

RE: Good show.
By rcc on 2/29/2008 4:24:12 PM , Rating: 1
He clearly knows what he's doing, they survived. And it really was not particularly dangerous.

Your attitude toward this is rather interesting. Do you also advocate a 35 MPH speed limit, no fireplaces in houses, no swing sets or other moving playground equipment???? etc.?

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki
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