DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday issued guidelines to prevent recurrence of EU nations scrambling fighter jets for incommunicado Indian aircraft twice in last two months and to resolve the confusion caused by similar flight numbers in the Indian skies.
Germany and Hungary had scrambled jets after a Jet Airways and then Air India plane, when its pilots did not respond to repeated air traffic control (ATC) calls, reports The Times of India.
These scares were believed to have been caused by one pilot taking controlled rest, or sleeping on long flights as allowed, and the awake pilot keeping his headset volume very low.
“Before going into controlled rest, the cockpit crew will inform the cabin crew in charge (CCIC). After the first 20 minutes of controlled rest, the non-resting pilot will establish contact with the CCIC. In case no contact is established, the CCIC will contact the cabin crew,” said the DGCA circular issued after its joint DG and head of safety Lalit Gupta met airline executives on Friday. This process has to be repeated after 20 minutes.
Senior pilots, however, say the regulator should make three pilots mandatory on flights with flying time of over eight hours, like India-Europe/Australia. The idea: To have one or two fully conscious pilots at all times in the cockpit. However, given the pilot shortage faced by airlines, this move is yet to be adopted by Indian carriers.
The regulator also mandated that the emergency frequency, on which ATCs reach out to pilots if they can’t do so on the regular frequency be monitored at an appropriate level.