Jet flight out of contact for 30 mins, causes panic, 2 pilots grounded

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New Delhi: A Jet Airways flight from London to Mumbai sparked panic after the aircraft remained out of contact for almost 30 minutes while it was flying over German airspace, barely five days after the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight last month.

Both the pilots who operated the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on Flight 9W-117 registered as VT-JEG were grounded after the incident on March 13 which was being construed as serious, official sources said today.

The number of passengers on board the aircraft was not known but it has a seating capacity of 312 passengers.

The sources said a probe by Indian aviation regulator DGCA found that the pilots overlooked increasing the speaker volume after removing the headsets resulting in a break in communication for almost 30 minutes. The pilots in their official deposition said they had removed their headsets.

Both pilots of were taken off the roster for two weeks during the investigations into the “serious” incident, the sources said.

The incident created a panic situation for German air traffic control DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH which later shot off a complaint to Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA). Simultaneously, Jet Airways’ Permanent Inquiry Board also inquired into the incident.

DGCA officials who launched an immediate probe after the complaint by the German agency also summoned Jet’s operations officers for a meeting in Mumbai late last month.

The pilots had not responded to the Air Traffic Control callouts while the plane was over the German airspace for almost 30 minutes, they said.

As per the routine practice, German ATC immediately informed the airline which sent an SMS to the cockpit via the ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) fitted in the aircraft. The pilots responded to the SMS and apologised to the German ATC for not responding earlier, the sources said.

ACARS is a digital datalink system for transmission of short messages between aircraft and ground stations via airband radio or satellite.

Jet Airways has sent their probe report to DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung, which had sought it within ten days. The sources said DGCA was awaiting a response from the German ATC to effect a closure to the investigation and the case.

“Based on the investigation report, Jet Airways has ensured strict disciplinary action towards the concerned pilots. The report has been sent to the German authorities for closure,” the Jet Airways spokesperson said, adding, “At Jet Airways, we endeavour to maintain the highest standards of safety for our guests, at all times.”

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