At least 330 passengers on board a London-bound Jet Airways flight from Mumbai experienced a major safety scare on February 16 when the Boeing 777-300 aircraft lost contact with the local air traffic control tower for a few minutes.
The cockpit crew was temporarily grounded following the incident which ostensibly happened after they tuned in an incorrect radio frequency.
Two Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the German Air Force were sent to intercept the Jet flight 9W 118 after all efforts by the local ATC tower to establish communication failed. But officials said the contact was restored by the time the fighter jets were airborne.
“Contact between Jet Airways flight 9W 118, from Mumbai to London’s Heathrow Airport and the local ATC, was briefly lost while flying over German airspace. Communication was safely restored within a few minutes. As a precaution, the German Air Force deployed its aircraft to ensure the safety of the flight and its guests. The flight with 330 guests and 15 crew subsequently landed at London,” read a statement issued by Jet Airways. It added that the matter was reported and the crew was taken off the roster pending a probe.
Incidentally, a video shot by the pilot of another European airline flying 2,000 feet above 9W 118 indicated that the flight was incommunicado for 10 to 15 minutes.
The video that went viral on Sunday showed two Eurofighters flanking 9W118 on both sides. Sources added that the mid-air blip happened during hand over between the ATC of Bratislava and Prague.
The Jet crew is suspected to have tuned in to 132.980MHz while the correct frequency was 132.890MHz. But officials from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which is probing the matter said it was too early to comment.