A photo of a woman posing while sitting in the captain's seat on a flight in China with drinks in front of her went viral earlier this week.
Chinese airline Air Guilin suspended the flight's pilot and involved crew members for life in response.
The airline said in a Sunday statement that the photo was taken during Flight GT 1011 from Guilin, southern China, to Yangzhou, eastern China, in January 2019.
An aviation blogger who shared the photo and helped it go viral said it was taken while the plane was airborne.
A Chinese pilot has been banned from flying for his airline for life after a photo of a woman posing in his cockpit during a flight went viral.
The unnamed pilot, who worked for Chinese airline Air Guilin, was suspended on Sunday, the airline said in a statement on Weibo. He was found in violation of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's rules, which forbid passengers and other unrelated people from entering the cockpit, Air Guilin said.
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The photo shows an unidentified woman in the captain's seat, with a tray of drinks in front of her. She is flashing a V-sign with her left hand.
It was taken on January 4, 2019, during Flight GT 1011 from Guilin, southern China, to the eastern city of Yangzhou, Air Guilin said. There were no reports of malfunctions on that flight.
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It's not entirely clear whether the flight was airborne at the time, but a Chinese aviation blogger who first spotted the photo said it was taken mid-flight.
The blogger, who goes by the name "Confirmation Signal," shared a screenshot of a post containing the photo on Weibo on Sunday. The post contained the caption: "Super grateful to the captain! I'm truly too happy!"
That post, presumably published by the woman in the photo, has since been deleted.
Her identity has not been revealed publicly, and the screenshot shared by "Confirmation Signal" had blurred out the woman's eyes and the poster's name.
Air Guilin said it had also suspended other crew members who had been involved in the photo from working for the company. They will also undergo further investigation by the company.
While the pilot has been suspended from working for Air Guilin for the rest of his life, he could still find another job at another airline. According to CNN, a representative for the company told the state-run Beijing Youth Daily newspaper that every carrier has its own rules and can decide whether or not to hire him.
Zhang Qihuai, the deputy head of the Chinese Aviation Law Association, told the country's state-run Global Times tabloid that the woman should also be punished with five days in detention and a 2,000-yuan ($286) fine.
It's not clear if Chinese authorities know her identity.
Zhang added that the actions of the captain and the woman had put other passengers in danger.