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Home > General > Does an airplane pilot have the same authority as a ship's captain?
Does an airplane pilot have the same authority as a ship's captain?
Professional Pilots - General
Friday, 24 August 2012 03:27

An Airline Captain

Hi Captain Lim,

Does an airplane pilot have the same authority as a ship's captain?

A ship's captain’s word is law on the ship. Is it the same on an airplane?

Thanks

Terry

Hi Terry,

I believe you meant, “Does an airplane ‘captain’ have the same authority as a ship captain?” An ‘airplane pilot’ can mean any pilot on board the plane, example a First Officer or Second Officer.

Normally, the hierarchy of the authority on a plane is that, in the event that the captain becomes incapacitated, the First Officers takes over control, then the Second Officer…

Yes, the power of an aircraft commander (Captain) is the same as that of a ship’s captain. Thus in any international flights, he “may restrain any person(s) he has reasonable cause to believe is committing or is about to commit an offence liable to interfere with the safety of persons or property on board the plane...”

In other words, he could give orders to handcuff any trouble maker on board the plane and hand him over to security on landing.

In addition he could “disembark any person endangering the safety of the flight or to deliver such person under restraint to the competent authorities…”

Hence a "pilot in command" (a captain in this case) is defined as the person who

1. has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;
2. has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight;
3. holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight.

This is almost similar to the role of a ship captain in International waters…

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thanks alot
Thanks for this info Im 14 and want to be a pilot when I go to college this info will help me better understand my calling

Thanks
Flygirl
carrie , 10 Apr, 2013
(pvt pilot)
what about authority on the ground prior to moving? ex: removal of passengers/load changes/personnel changes/ overbooking decisions where some one "has to go" for lack of seats ?
don , 14 Apr, 2017

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