NEW DELHI: As many as 142 passengers and eight crew members of a Jet Airways flight from Doha to Kochi had a narrow escape after the plane landed at Trivandrum airport without the mandatory reserve fuel requirement, leading to the suspension of both the pilots by the aviation regulator, sources said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), which functions under the civil aviation ministry, to probe the incident which took place on 18 August, terming it “serious”, they added.
The fuel in the Boeing 737-800 aircraft was on reserve with only 270-kg of air fuel left at the time of landing at Trivandrum airport as against a mandatory requirement of 1,500-kg of fuel along with alternative fuel, the sources said.
Following the incident, DGCA is now reviewing the fuel uplift policy of the airline to examine whether it was carrying less fuel to save costs, they said.
The aircraft was scheduled to land at Kochi airport but, after failing to do so despite three go-arounds due to bad weather, the pilot sought diversion to Trivandrum airport citing a “fuel emergency” rather than taking it to the nearest airport, which was Bangalore.
“Trivandrum airport also had bad weather and the pilot could land there only on the fourth attempt. Moreover, in a violation of unscheduled landing norms, the commander diverted the plane to Trivandrum and not the nearest airport, which was Bangalore in this case,” the sources said.
According to the DGCA’s fuel policy, an aircraft should carry taxi fuel, trip fuel, contingency fuel (which is 5% of the trip fuel), alternative fuel as well as holding fuel for 30 minutes. “Even a 10 minute taxiing of a Boeing 737-800 burns 270-kg of fuel,” sources said.