Aviation

DGCA worried over ‘sleeping’ pilots

DELHI: Alarmed at EU nations scrambling fighter jets for incommunicado Indian airlines twice in a month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has called a meeting of Indian airlines this week to figure out how to prevent the recurrence of this phenomenon.

DGCA chief B S Bhullar is learnt to have taken a very serious view of this and directed a review of the existing procedures. It will consider new ways to ensure that at least one pilot in the cockpit is fully conscious at all times and responds to calls from air traffic control (ATC).

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Both the scares over European skies are believed to have been caused as one of the pilots was taking controlled rest — sleeping as is allowed under rules — and the awake pilot did not respond to ATC callouts, leading to the scare.

At present, cabin crew have to go to the cockpit every half hour on long flights to check on the crew — basically to ensure that one of them is awake at all times. But clearly now this requirement needs some tweaking.

The DGCA had over two years ago recommended that two fully “conscious” persons should be inside the cockpit at all times, which means calling a cabin crew inside when one pilot is taking controlled rest, to make the place “more alert” and avoid any inadvertent action.

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