In a startling twist to the incident involving a Jet Airways aircraft plunging over 5,000 feet while flying over the Turkish airspace last month, it has now emerged that the co-pilot may have fiddled with the aircraft controls, resulting in the free fall.
There were around 280 passengers on board.
Considering the “gravity” of the incident, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Prabhat Kumar, has scrapped the inquiry committee investigating the incident and has asked Sanjay Brahmane, deputy director, air safety, to conduct the probe.
The aviation regulator received a report from US aircraft maker Boeing, which had analysed the records of the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) of the B777 aircraft.
“This appears to be a serious act of ‘criminal negligence’ on part of the co-pilot. It wasn’t as if the plane went into a free fall and the pilots were unaware of it. The Boeing report clearly establishes that the co-pilot fiddled with the controls of the aircraft after which the plane dropped 5,000 feet,” a senior DGCA official said.
Jet did not respond to call, mail and text message from HT seeking comments for the story.
The DGCA had grounded both the pilots of the Mumbai-Newark flight after the incident came to light. The flight’s commander was asleep (taking controlled rest) at the time of the incident. The regulator is also looking into whether the “controlled rest was permitted at that point of time” or not.
The pilots did not report the incident in their post-flight report, which they are required to do according to rules, and kept on with regular flying till the DGCA was tipped off about the incident through an anonymous message.