NEW DELHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has suspended two Jet Airways pilots in connection with the dangerous landing of a flight at the international airport here without mandatory reserve fuel requirement.
The Boeing 737-800 plane landed at the airport on August 18, reportedly with 270 kg of air fuel as against the mandatory requirement of 1,500 kg along with alternative fuel.
The Doha-Kochi flight was scheduled to land in the Kochi airport but took a diversion following bad weather there.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has launched a probe into the incident in which the 142 passengers and eight crew members on board had a narrow escape. The pilot opted for an emergency landing at the Thiruvananthapuram airport despite poor weather conditions owing to fuel shortage, Directorate General of Civil Aviation sources said.
“Even a 10-minute taxiing of a Boeing 737-800 burns 270-kg of fuel,” they said.
The sources said the airline also erred by charting Thiruvananthapuram as an alternate destination for Kochi.
As the Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram airports often have similar weather conditions, the alternate airport should have been Bangalore, they said.
Though the instrument landing syatem (ILS) at the Thiruvananthpuram airport was dysfunctional at the time of the incident, it is not known whether the same would be considered under the purview of the AAIB probe.
The ILS helps aircraft for landing during adverse weather and low visibility conditions. The ILS here is remaining defunt for around one month.
According to the DGCA’s fuel policy, an aircraft should carry taxi fuel, trip fuel, contingency fuel (which is five per cent of the trip fuel), alternative fuel as well as holding fuel for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile the Jet Airways, in a statement, said the flight was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram due to low visibility at Kochi Airport.
“Jet Airways flight 9W-555, en route from Doha to Kochi, was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram as a precautionary measure as the runway at Kochi was not visible due to the presence of low clouds. This is as per the standard operating safety procedure. The flight landing with 141 guests was uneventful,” the airline said.
It further said that safety is of paramount importance and to that end, planning of flight operations are conducted with a very high-level of safety parameters.
“This includes a fuel uplift that not only meets all regulatory requirements, it has additional buffers to cater to unexpected scenarios including poor weather at the alternate airport,” the statement added.
However, while avoiding any mention of the suspension of the flight commander and his co-pilot, the airline said that it would not make any further comments as the matter is under investigation by the airline safety team as also Directorate General of Civil Aviation.