The act of two pilots of Jet Airways keeping their headphones away from them caused panic at German airports on March 13 as the air traffic control could not get in touch with them for a full 30 minutes. Since this snapping of contact with an aircraft came on March 13 — five days after Malaysia Airlines MH 370 incident, — the German authorities got alarmed about the missing plane and heaved a sigh of relief only after the aircraft got in touch with them.
This scare happened when Jet’s 9W-117, operated on a Boeing 777-300 extended range aircraft, was flying from London to Mumbai. While over German airspace, the two pilots of this aircraft removed their headsets but forgot to increase its volume so that they could hear any sound from it from a distance and respond to it. This led to a break in communication for almost 30 minutes.
The German ATC then got in touch with Jet Airways, which sent an SMS to the aircraft cockpit through aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS). This is a digital datalink system for transmission of short messages between aircraft and ground stations via airband radio or satellite.
After getting this message, the pilots realized their mistake and responded to the german ATC, while apologizing to them for the lapse. But given the scare and the long duration, the German air traffic control DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH complained to the Indian directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA). The regulator conducted an inquiry in which the pilots were quizzed and they admitted removing their headsets. The pilots were grounded for two weeks.
Read the full report here, Times of India