2 Indonesian Batik Air pilots suspended after falling asleep in cockpit

2 Indonesian Batik Air pilots suspended after falling asleep in cockpit

(Photo by Bahnfrend - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=126458016)
(Photo by Bahnfrend - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=126458016)

Batik Air, full-service carrier of Indonesia’s Lion Group, temporarily suspended two pilots after they fell asleep in the cockpit during a domestic flight in late January, the carrier said in a statement.

Flight 6723 was on its way to Jakarta from Kendari in Sulawesi on Jan. 25 with 153 passengers on board when neither the pilot or co-pilot responded to communications from the air traffic controller and another plane, according to the National Transportation Safety Commission. They were trying to contact the Airbus A320 after it failed to follow the designated route and headed past Jakarta toward the Indian Ocean. 

Twenty-eight minutes after the last recorded transmission from the co-pilot, the captain woke up and became aware that the aircraft was not on the correct flight path. He then saw that his second-in-command, or SIC, was sleeping and woke him up, the NTSC wrote in the preliminary investigation report of what its described as a “serious incident”.

In the previous leg from Jakarta to Kendari, the pilot suggested the second officer “take a rest as he was aware that the SIC did not have a proper rest. The SIC rested in the cockpit and slept for about 30 minutes.”

Batik Air in the statement on Saturday said it operates with an adequate rest policy for its crew, in accordance with regulations, to ensure they have optimal physical and mental condition when carrying out their duties.

Lion Air’s safety record has been in the spotlight over the years. The privately held carrier has suffered several hull losses, the industry term for aircraft damaged beyond repair. 

In 2018, one of the carrier’s Boeing 737 Max 8 planes crashed shortly after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people aboard. The incident later revealed a design flaw in the aircraft after a second crash in Ethiopia, resulting in the global grounding of the aircraft type for years.

In 2013, a two-month-old Boeing 737-800 of Lion Air landed in the water short of a runway at Ngurah Rai Bali International Airport. While the aircraft fuselage broke apart on impact, there were no fatalities.

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