Napping pilot, iPad-happy co-pilot let Jet plunge 5,000 ft

Napping pilot, iPad-happy co-pilot let Jet plunge 5,000 ft

A Jet Airways flight to Brussels from Mumbai plunged 5,000 feet while flying over Turkey as the commander was asleep and the co-pilot busy with an iPad carrying flight information.

The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended the duo for the serious lapse, which occurred on Friday last.

The DGCA initiated a probe and asked a three-member team to review the airline’s entire flight training programme. The aviation regulator termed the incident “serious”.

The Boeing 777-300 plane plunged from 34,000 feet to 29,000 feet, prompting the Air Traffic Control at Ankara to send an emergency message to the aircraft asking the pilots why they had deviated from the flight path and directed them to climb up.

After the Ankara ATC prompting, sources said, the co-pilot woke up the commander, who restored the height of the plane.

An airline spokesperson said Jet Airways has initiated an internal inquiry into the matter and was extending all co-operation to DGCA by providing all necessary assistance for the probe.

“Safety is of paramount importance to Jet Airways, as is the welfare of our guests and crew and the airline will always take appropriate steps to ensure the same,” the spokesperson said.
The pilots were questioned by DGCA officials on Wednesday and the commander said he was on “controlled rest” that meant that a short nap inside the cockpit is allowed by flight operation procedures.

The co-pilot informed the DGCA that she was working on her iPad or the electronic flight bag, which has all aircraft documents loaded on to it.

The DGCA has also directed the airline to provide them with reports, as well as the records of the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) within a week, sources said.

Sources said the DGCA probe would look into Jet Airways' training procedures and policies for the past one year.

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