Reports: FAA investigating cockpit visit by Rockies coach

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 3:36 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines are looking into how a member of the Colorado Rockies traveling party got into the cockpit during a charter flight and sat in the captain’s chair, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Based on a since-deleted video posted to social media, The Denver Post identified the person sitting at the controls of the team’s April 10 flight as hitting coach Hensley Meulens.

“Had some fun in the cockpit on our flight from Denver to Toronto,” Meulens wrote in the caption, per The Post. “Thanks to the captain and the first officer of our United charter that allowed me this great experience.”

The report added that Meulens can be heard making a joke about landing the plane. In addition, a second, unidentified coach entered the cockpit at some point.

Meulens, 56, played in 182 games in the major leagues from 1989-98.

Federal regulations, made more strict following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, limit who has access to the cockpit.

The Rockies have yet to comment on the matter.

“We’re deeply disturbed by what we see in that video, which appears to show an unauthorized person in the flight deck at cruise altitude while the autopilot was engaged,” United Airlines said in a statement sent to the publications. “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.”

While security risks are perceived to be less with teams that have chartered flights, regulations are not waived. By FAA rules and United’s flight operations manual, charters have the same safety standards as commercial flights and the cockpit is off-limits to unauthorized people, per The Wall Street Journal.

–Field Level Media