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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Jet Airways flight plunges 5,000 feet as pilots fall asleep

Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 14, 2014
First Published: 10:13 IST(14/8/2014) | Last Updated: 13:17 IST(14/8/2014)

Hundreds of Jet Airways passengers on board a Brussels-bound flight from Mumbai faced a major safety scare last week when the plane carrying them plunged by 5,000 feet as both pilots fell asleep.

The incident that took place last Friday is now being probed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as the crew has failed to report the matter soon after completing the flight in accordance with the rules laid down by the aviation safety regulator.

A Jet Airways spokesperson confirmed the incident.

“Jet Airways has initiated an internal inquiry into the matter. The airline is also extending all co-operation in the matter to the DGCA by providing all necessary assistance for the inquiry,” said the spokesperson.

According to DGCA sources, both the flight’s commander and first officer fell asleep soon after the aircraft entered the Turkish airspace. Around the same time, the flight descended from 34,000 feet to 29,000 feet without anybody manning the cockpit controls, said a senior DGCA official requesting anonymity.

DGCA sources added that in a bid to hide the serious safety lapse, the pilots did not file the flight safety report (FSR), a mandatory exercise to document any untoward incident during the course of a flight. It even failed to report the matter to the DGCA.

“By holding back the information now it would be difficult to access pilots’ conversations as the digital flight data recorder (DFDR) was not removed soon after the incident,” said a senior DGCA official requesting anonymity.

The DFDR or the black box is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating air mishaps probes. It comprises of the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

In similar cases earlier, the DGCA has established that both pilots were sleeping by producing snoozing sounds from the CVR.

The Jet Airways spokesperson added, “Safety is of paramount importance to Jet Airways as is also the welfare of our guests and crew and the airline will always take appropriate steps to ensure the same.”


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