Plane falls 5 000 feet as pilot naps, co-pilot busy on tablet

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AUTHORITIES have launched an investigation after a Jet Airways aircraft dropped more than 5 000 feet in airspace over Turkey while its pilot was taking a controlled nap as per global airline norms.

An aviation regulator was looking into whether the co-pilot had also dozed off as the Boeing 777-300 travelled from Mumbai to Brussels last Friday, the Times of India reported. The co-pilot told officials she was busy on her tablet and did not notice that the plane had lost altitude.

The pilots were unaware of the situation until they received an emergency call from an air traffic controller in Ankara, who demanded to know why the aircraft, which can hold almost 300 passengers, had dropped out of its assigned flight level of 34 000 feet.

Other aircraft were flying at the altitude that the commercial aircraft had descended to, and the airspace over Turkey is busier than normal as airlines avoid conflict zones in Iraq and Ukraine.

The co-pilot awakened the pilot when the air traffic controller asked them to immediately ascend to 32 000 feet.

The crew did not report the incident to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The regulator was alerted when it received an anonymous text message about the uncontrolled descent involving the Mumbai-based airline.

DGCA officials summoned the pilot and co-pilot, who have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. – Daily Mail

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