Batik Air pilots: Indonesian officials say the plane veered off the runway because both pilots fell asleep.

Syeder Mahuddin/AFP/Getty Images

Batik Air passenger plane at Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Indonesia in 2022.



CNN

Indonesia's transport ministry will launch an investigation after two Batik Air pilots fell asleep during a recent flight, state news agency Antara reported, citing the ministry's civil aviation director-general M Christie Enda Murni.

According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (KNKT) on Saturday, the pilot and co-pilot of the flight from Kentari in southeastern Sulawesi province to the capital Jakarta on January 25 slept for 28 minutes at the same time, causing navigational errors. “The aircraft was not on the correct flight path.”

No one on board – including 153 passengers and four flight attendants – was injured during the flight, and there was no damage to the plane, KNKT said in a preliminary report.

Flight BTK6723 lasted two hours and 35 minutes and landed successfully in Jakarta, according to Antara and the initial report.

CNN has reached out to Batik Air.

According to the report, the second-in-command reported earlier in the day that his co-pilot was not “properly rested.”

On the flight before the incident, the second-in-command managed to sleep for “about 30 minutes”. After the aircraft took off from Kendari and reached cruising altitude, the pilot-in-command requested permission to rest and the second-in-command took over the aircraft. About 90 minutes into the flight, the second-in-command then “inadvertently fell asleep,” according to the report.

The Jakarta Area Control Center (ACC) tried to reach the plane 12 minutes after the last recorded transmission by the co-pilot, but there was no response from the pilots, it said. About 28 minutes after the last recorded transmission, the pilot-in-command awoke and realized that the aircraft was not on the correct flight path. At that time, he woke up the second-in-command and responded to the ACC.

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The initial report described the pilot-in-command telling ACC that the plane had experienced a “radio communications problem,” which was resolved.

The statement did not name the pilots, but identified the pilot in command as a 32-year-old Indonesian man and the second-in-command as a 28-year-old Indonesian man. The second-in-command had one-month-old twins and “had to get up several times to help his wife take care of the children,” the report said.

“We will investigate and review night flight operations in Indonesia regarding fatigue risk management for Batik Air and other airline operators,” Murni said in a statement, according to Antara.

The flight crew of BTK6723 has been grounded according to standard operating procedure pending further investigation, he added, according to the news agency.

He said the agency will send an approved Flight Inspector on Resolution of Safety Issue (RSI) to investigate the cause of the incident and recommend mitigation measures to the pilots and supervisors.

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