Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jet redux in Hungary's AI air scare case

New Delhi: The scrambling of Hungarian fighter jets after an Air India aircraft went incommunicado on Friday may have been caused by exactly the same factors that had led to a Jet Airways plane facing a similar situation in Germany last month.
A preliminary probe by AI has indicated that one of the two pilots of AI 171 Ahmedabad-London-Newark was taking "controlled rest" - sleeping on long flights as per rules while the other pilot is supposed to be in charge of the cockpit. "The headset volume of the other (awake) pilot was possibly set at low due to which he could not hear European ATC," said a highly placed source. AI is now going to seek permission from DGCA so that these two pilots can operate a schedule flight to India. Once here, they will be taken off flying duties pending the probe.
Jet's Mumbai-London flight had also gone incommunicado for possibly the same reasons on February 16. DGCA chief B S Bhullar could not be reached to know how the regulator plans to tackle this new phenomenon as frequent scares do no good to Indian aviation's image abroad.
According to aviation insiders, the only way to tackle this is to have two awake persons inside the cockpit at all times.
12/03/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India