Vinay Kumar

Check pilot on Jet Airways flight triggered an emergency situation mid-air

NEW DELHI: The lives of about 100 passengers and crew on board a Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Mumbai were endangered when a check pilot triggered an emergency situation mid-air to test the pilot’s ability to handle it, a shocking incident that could have led to a crash.

Taking stern action for the threat posed to the lives of the passengers and crew on a flight two months ago, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has derostered the two pilots and suspended the check pilot’s rating pending enquiry.

The incident, which came to light on Wednesday, occurred on the Jet Airways Delhi-Mumbai flight 9W-322 on October 20 when the check-pilot, who was seated behind the cockpit crew, pulled off a circuit-breaker, affecting the Boeing 737-900’s auto-pilot mechanism and other equipment.

With the navigational equipment affected, the aircraft lost height rapidly, at a speed over the prescribed 1,000 feet per minute, while preparing to land at the Mumbai airport.

The episode is understood to have occurred over the suburbs of Mumbai, almost 3,500 feet above ground.

While no one was injured in the incident, the DGCA probe, which is continuing, found that “the check pilot had resorted to the prohibited practice of testing the skill of the pilot.”

The aircraft’s ground proximity warning system also got switched off due to the check pilot’s action. His rating has been suspended pending enquiry, while the pilot-in-command and the co-pilot have been de-rostered pending enquiry, an official spokesperson said.