New Delhi: India’s Minister of Aviation on Thursday ordered a probe by the aircraft accident investigation board into the incident last Friday when a Jet Airways flight en route from Mumbai to Brussels suddenly dropped by 5,000 feet over Turkey airspace.
The board will “conduct a detailed investigation into the incident which would take four to five months following which it would determine the quantum of penalty, if at all, for the pilots,” the ministry said.
“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has viewed the descent of Jet Airways flight by almost 5,000 feet over Turkey as a serious incident. Both the pilots have been taken off the roster pending inquiry. They were also summoned (on Wednesday) to DGCA and questioned about the incident,” the ministry said.
The Jet Airways Boeing 777-300 was on its way from Mumbai to Brussels last Friday when it suddenly dropped 5,000 feet from its assigned flight level of 34,000 feet in the Ankara airspace of Turkey. The commander of this Boeing 777 aircraft was taking controlled rest, which means taking a nap as per rules, and during this time the co-pilot was to hold fort in the cockpit.
However, the co-pilot was reportedly busy on her tablet at that time and did not notice that the aircraft had descended from its assigned flight level, raising doubts if she too had fallen asleep. It took a call from an alarmed Ankara ATC, asking why 9W-228 had moved away from its given level.
Ankara ATC asked the aircraft to immediately ascend to 32,000 feet. The co-pilot immediately woke up the commander and he took the aircraft up to 32,000 feet.