Pilot asleep, co-pilot busy on tablet, flight drops 5,000 feet

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A Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Brussels suddenly dropped 5,000 feet in the Ankara airspace over Turkey on Friday.

The commander of the Boeing 777 aircraft was taking a “controlled rest”, which means a nap as per rules.

The aviation regulator is now probing if the co-pilot of the Indian airline, too, had dozed off.

The co-pilot, who was supposed to hold fort in the cockpit, claims she was busy on her tablet and did not notice that the aircraft had lost altitude, The Times of India reported.

It took a call from an alarmed Ankara Air Traffic Control (ATC), asking why Flight 9W-228 had moved away from its assigned flight level of 34,000 feet, for the situation to be rectified.

Other aircraft had been assigned the flight level at which Jet’s B-777-300 had descended to.

Anonymous SMS

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation got to know about this incident on Tuesday when one of its officials got an anonymous SMS about the “level burst”, or uncontrolled descent.

In its emergency communication, Ankara ATC asked the Jet aircraft to immediately ascend to 32,000 feet as this region’s airspace has become very busy in recent days with airlines avoiding countries such as Iraq and Ukraine.

The co-pilot immediately woke up the commander and he steered the aircraft back to 32,000 feet.

The airlines confirmed the incident and an investigation is on.

Both pilots have been grounded.

Source: Times of India