Out of contact, Jet flight causes panic

Out of contact, Jet flight  causes panic

German air traffic control (ATC) went into panic mode last month when pilots of a London-Mumbai Jet Airways flight did not respond to its messages for about 30 minutes while flying over their airspace.

The incident resulted in anxious moments for the authorities on March 13 as it came just five days after the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight. The remains of the missing flight, said to have crashed into the Indian Ocean, are yet to be traced.
The German ATC immedia­t­e­ly informed Jet Airways, which sent a text message to the cockpit via the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting Syst­em (ACARS) in the aircraft. The pilots then replied to the text message and apologised to the German ATC for not responding earlier.

It turned out that the pilots had overlooked the low volume on their headsets and did not communicate for almost 30 minutes with the German ATC, which was desperately trying to reach out to them. Sources said the pilots operating the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft were grounded after the incident, which was declared “serious” by authorities.

After the German ATC—DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH—filed a complaint, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) conducted a probe and found that the pilots did not check the speaker volume after removing the headsets. This resulted in a breakdown in communication for almost half-an-hour. The pilots had admitted that they had removed their headsets.

DGCA officials also summoned Jet’s operations officers for a meeting in Mumbai late last month.

Jet Airways’ Permanent Inquiry Board also probed the incident.

The DGCA is now waiting for a response from the German ATC to effect a closure to the investigation and the case.

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