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DGCA to audit pilot training in Jet Airways

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an audit of pilots’ training in Jet Airways and has de rostered two pilots who failed to notice 5,000 feet altitude change when the Boeing 777 was cruising over Turkey last week.

The incident took place on airline’s Mumbai-Brussels flight and the civil aviation regulator will probe whether the autopilot tripped or was inadvertently turned off resulting in sudden drop in altitude. The Mumbai-Brussels flight is operated with two cockpit crew.

On Wednesday the DGCA questioned pilots about the incident. While the captain said he was taking a nap while the co pilot claimed she was reading tablet. DGCA allows pilots to take “controlled rest” inside the cockpit and has laid down procedures in this regard.

“The autopilot may have disengaged or got turned off inadvertently,” a Jet Airways source said. Whenever an auto pilot switches off or when ever an aircraft climbs or descends 300 feet from the previously selected altitude a warning beep gets activated and the regulator will also have to find out why the pilots did not react to it. This beep gets activated for both controlled and uncontrolled altitude changes.

According to aviation sources pilots are allowed to change selected altitude only after seeking prior clearance from the air traffic control and since the Jet Brussels flight had dropped 5,000 feet without notification controllers in Turkey radioed the pilots and asked them to make altitude correction.

Whenever pilots change altitude they feed desired altitude by pressing a button on a mode control panel inside cockpit and auto pilot selects rate of descent or ascent in order to maintain desired speed. The pilots can also manually select ascent or descent rate which can be 100-6,000 feet per minute.

Typically pilots select the rate of descend for small altitude changes (1,000-2,000 feet ) and the selected rate could be 1,000 feet per minute and allow the autopilot select the rate for higher changes.

“The DGCA has viewed the descent of Jet Airways flight by almost 5000 feet over Turkey as a serious incident.Both the pilots have been taken off the roster pending inquiry.They were also summoned yesterday to DGCA and questioned about the incident. DGCA has appointed a 3 member team to do a training audit of Jet airways to find out whether there are any shortcomings in their training. The team has been asked to submit its report by August 31.Additionally the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has been asked to conduct a detailed investigation into the incident which would take 4 to 5 months following to determine quantum of possible penalty,” civil aviation ministry said in a statement.

Jet Airways said it had instituted an internal inquiry into the matter and is extending co-operation to the DGCA by providing all necessary assistance for the inquiry.

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