Thiruvananthapuram: India's aviation regulator on Friday suspended two pilots of Jet Airways for alleged violation of safety norms after the carrier's Doha-Kochi flight landed at Thiruvananthapuram airport without the mandatory reserve fuel requirement.
Some 150 passengers and crew were on board flight 9W555, a Boeing 737-800, on Aug 18.
"Both pilots of Jet Airways flight have been suspended, pending further investigations. This was a Doha-Kochi route. The pilots, as per our initial findings, violated several safety norms," said a senior official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
"Such an action could have jeopardised passenger safety," the official told IANS from Mumbai. "A team of our senior officials is looking at all the angles of safety violation. This is a serious incident. We have taken cognizance and initiated an inquiry."
The official explained that the flight was scheduled to land at Kochi. But on failing to do so despite three go-arounds due to bad weather, the pilot sought a diversion to Thiruvananthapuram citing a "fuel emergency".
The Air Traffic Control at Kochi had, instead, advised the pilot to go to the nearest airport, which was Bangalore. "But in a violation of our unscheduled landing norms, the plane was diverted to Thiruvananthapuram - not the nearest airport," an official said.
He said Thiruvananthapuram was also experiencing bad weather at that time. "Even there, the pilot could only land on the fourth attempt."
The aircraft was flying on reserve with only 270 kg of fuel left at the time of landing at Thiruvananthapuram, against the mandatory requirement of 1,500 kg, the official said. Ten minutes of taxiing alone by such an aircraft can burn over 250 kg of fuel.
The DGCA's fuel policy mandates that an aircraft should carry taxi fuel, then fuel for the trip, some contingency fuel - at least 5 percent of the trip fuel - some alternative fuel, as well as holding fuel that can last for 30 minutes.