Indonesian Flight Deviated From Route After Pilots Fell Asleep for Nearly Half an Hour

Indonesian Flight Deviated From Route After Pilots Fell Asleep for Nearly Half an Hour
A passenger plane from low-cost airline Batik Air lands on the runway, at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Blang Bintang, Aceh Province on Oct. 3, 2022. (Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP via Getty Images)

Indonesia’s Transport Ministry said on Saturday that it would conduct a review of night flight operations after two Batik Air pilots fell asleep mid-flight for nearly half an hour, causing the airplane to veer off course.

The incident happened on Jan. 25 when both pilots of flight BTK6723—operated by Batik Air—dozed off while the plane was en route from Kendari to Jakarta, with a total of 153 passengers on board.

According to the National Transportation Safety Committee’s (KNKT) preliminary report, about half an hour after departure, the captain requested permission to rest from his co-pilot, which was granted.

The captain woke up 45 minutes later and asked the co-pilot if he wanted to switch and rest. However, the co-pilot declined. They engaged in a non-duty-related conversation for about 30 seconds before the captain returned to sleep.

KNKT said that the co-pilot assumed control of the flight but later “inadvertently” fell asleep, resulting in the air traffic control center being unable to reach the plane.

“Several attempts to contact BTK6723 had been made by the Jakarta ACC [area control center] including asking other pilots to call the BTK6723. None of the calls were responded to by the BTK6723 pilots,” it stated.

The captain subsequently woke up 28 minutes later and realized that the flight was veering off course. He immediately woke his co-pilot up and corrected the flight path.

The captain then responded to calls from another pilot and the ACC in Jakarta, saying that the flight had encountered a “radio communication problem” and that it had been resolved.

The plane landed safely in Jakarta with no damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported following the incident.

Airlines Urged to Check Pilots’ Rest Time

KNKT found that the two pilots had been deemed fit to fly, having passed health checks and alcohol tests before the trip.

According to the report, the co-pilot was sleep-deprived after helping his wife take care of their one-month-old twin babies at home.

“The SIC [second in command] felt that his sleep quality had degraded by the several wakes up,” the report reads.

KNKT also stated that the aircraft radio communication system was found to be in “normal condition” after the occurrence flight.

Both pilots have since been temporarily suspended, according to the airline.

Batik Air told local media VOI that the decision demonstrates its “seriousness in the importance of safety aspects and in carrying out a thorough investigation.”

“Batik Air with a strong commitment to the safety and comfort of passengers conveys various steps to develop operational standards and the performance of its pilots,” the airline’s spokesperson said.

The director general of air transportation at the Ministry of Transportation, Kristi Endah Murni, said the ministry will begin a probe into the incident and “review night flight operations in Indonesia related to risk management of fatigue for Batik Air and all flight operators.”

“We emphasize that sanctions will be imposed in accordance with the investigation results found by the investigation team,” Ms. Murni said in a statement, according to local reports.

She also recommended that airlines monitor the quality and duration of rest for their pilots and crew members, saying that insufficient rest may affect their level of vigilance when flying.

Batik Air is a subsidiary of Lion Air, the largest airline in Indonesia. The commercial airline has a frequency of over 350 flights daily. Indonesian authorities and Batik Air have refrained from disclosing the identity of the two pilots.

From The Epoch Times

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