India probes why Jet Airways flight plunged 5,000 feet

NEW DELHI Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:22pm IST

A Jet Airways passenger aircraft takes off from the airport in Ahmedabad August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

A Jet Airways passenger aircraft takes off from the airport in Ahmedabad August 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's aviation watchdog is investigating why a Jet Airways Ltd (JET.NS) flight plunged almost 5,000 ft (1,520 m) over Turkish airspace last week, after some news reports said one pilot was asleep and the other was busy on a flight management device.

The aircraft, operated by India's second largest airline, dropped suddenly during a flight between Mumbai and Brussels last Friday.

According to The Times of India newspaper, the co-pilot was supposed to ensure the aircraft remained steady while the commander took a permitted rest.

The co-pilot has since told the aviation regulator she was using her electronic flight bag - a portable display system used to speedily execute flight management tasks - and did not realise the aircraft had lost altitude, the newspaper reported, quoting an unnamed source.

Both pilots "have been taken off the roster pending inquiry" and were summoned for questioning on Wednesday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

The investigation into the incident will consider whether the pilots were trained adequately and whether fines should be levied on them, the aviation body said.

Jet Airways did not respond to an email request for comment.

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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