Over the 24 hours a string of aviation incidents have come to light across India. One is a minor mistake with major reaction, and one which can be only described as outright reckless.
1. Jet Airways. VT-JGC.
On 20th October, a Jet Airways Boeing 737-900 registration VT-JGC performing flight 9W 332 from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International to Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International.
On final approach at 3,700MSL the check pilot sitting in the jump seat, allegedly pulled some circuit breakers to simulate failures. Aircraft lost Autopilot, Flight Director, and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. The aircraft descent rates exceeded 1250 feet per minute. The flight commander took manual control of aircraft and landed the plane safely. Passengers disembarked normally. Jet Airways is investigating the incident internally. The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is also investigating.
What caused the check pilot, normally a senior instructor pilot to pull the circuit breakers defies logic. The rules are very clear. No revenue flight shall have its systems intentionally degraded. Failures are normally simulated. Boeing flight manual clearly prohibits tampering with circuit breakers during a revenue flight, and in normal aviation practice, on check flights, the check pilot does not interfere with any of the flight controls or systems, just observes. If true, the pilot deserves to have to book thrown at him.
2. Kingfisher Airlines VT-VJP
On 01 December, Kingfisher Airlines Airbus A330-223 registration VT-VJP performing flight IT072 from Hong Kong International to Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International with 151 passengers and 13 crew. The crew was facing intermittent radio problems. Approx 100 nm from Mumbai the pilot intended to squawk 7600 on the transpnder to indicate radio failure, instead wrongly squawked 7500 on the transponder which indicates unauthorised cockpit intrusion i.e. a hijacking, thus setting off a full security alert at Mumbai airport.
The pilots contacted Mumbai ATC and clarified the mistake. After due diligence by the security agencies, the flight was permitted to land after a delay of 85 minutes. Passengers disembarked normally. The pilots have been de-rostered pending full investigation by the airline and India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
If there is a silver lining to the incident, at least the pilot achieved an un-intended test of the security process at Mumbai.
3. Jet Airways VT-JCG
On 01 December, Jet Airways ATR 72-500 registration VT-JCG performing flight 9W 2572 from Bangalore Bengaluru International to Pune Lohegaon 57 passengers and 4 crew. Ten minutes after departure (20:30 IST 15:00Z pushback) the crew received an autopilot failure warning. The crew returned to Bangalore and landed normally at 21:05 IST (15:35Z). The passengers disembarked normally and were transferred to another aircraft VT-JCJ and departed for Pune at 22:15 (16:45Z).The faulty aircraft was repaired and ferried to Mumbai to continue operations.
4. Spicejet VT-SGB
Today, 02 December, a Spicejet Boeing 737-900ER registration VT-SGB performing flight SG 114 from Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International to New Delhi Indira Gandhi International with 189 passengers and 7 crew. About one hour in to the flight the flight crew determined the aircraft was unable to maintain the differential pressure, and decided to return to Mumbai. The flight landed normally and passengers disembarked normally via stairs. Alternate arrangements are being made for the passengers to reach their destinations.