Indonesian investigators have called for “detailed guidance and procedure” to identify flightcrew fatigue, following an incident involving two Batik Air Indonesia pilots who slept simultaneously for a time while operating a service to Jakarta.  

The 25 January incident, which the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has classified as “serious”, led to a series of navigation errors, which occured while the two pilots slept for about 28min. 


Source: Wikimedia Commons

The flight between Kendari and Jakarta was operated with an Airbus A320 (PK-LUV)

The two crew members – a 32-year-old pilot and a 28-year-old first officer – were operating flight ID6723 from Kendari in Sulawesi province to the Indonesian capital. The flight has a block time of 2h 35min, according to Batik Air Indonesia schedules. 

As the aircraft reached cruising altitude at around 08:37 local time, both crew removed their headsets, and the pilot asked the first officer if he could doze off. The first officer agreed. 

The first officer took over as pilot flying for the next 40min before his colleague woke up to ask if he wanted to rest. The first officer declined and continued his duties. It is unclear if and when the younger pilot put his headset back on. 

At around 08:43 Jakarta time, the first officer, still flying the aircraft, made initial contact with Jakarta air traffic control, and was instructed to head towards waypoint KURUS, located northeast of the capital’s airport. 

At the time, the A320 was flying on a heading of 250° and was east of the waypoint. 

Around 1min after contact with Jakarta, the first officer “inadvertently” fell asleep. Jakarta area control centre asked the crew how long the A320 needed to fly on its current heading, but received no response.

Several attempts to contact the aircraft were made, including asking other pilots to call the flightcrew.  

About 28min after the first officer fell asleep the captain woke up and realised the aircraft was “not in the right path”, says the KNKT. He woke his colleague up and responded to calls from Jakarta’s area control centre, saying that they had “experienced radio communication problems”, which explained their lack of response. 

Screenshot 2024-03-08 at 11.41.50 AM

Source: Screengrab via KNKT

Flight tracking data shows the deviation of the A320’s flight path.

The aircraft landed safely at Jakarta, with no damage to aircraft or injuries to those aboard. Investigators found no issues with the aircraft communication systems. 

”Prior to the flight there were no records or reports of aircraft system malfunction. After the [incident], the aircraft radio communication system was found in normal condition,” it says. 

According the KNKT, the same flightcrew had operated the Jakarta-Kendari flight the same morning. That flight was scheduled to depart at 02:55 local time, with crew members required to sign in at 01:25. 

The KNKT found that the younger pilot had informed his colleague he “did not have a proper rest” the night before. The committee notes that the first officer was a new parent, with a pair of one-month-old twins. 

Although the night before he was due to fly to Kendari he had attempted to sleep early, he “had to wake up several times to help his wife take care of the babies”, and felt that “his sleep quality had degraded” as a result. He was allowed to rest on the flight into Kendari, while the captain took over pilot flying duties. 

In its preliminary findings, the committee notes that Batik Air Indonesia’s operating manual covers pilot health and medical fitness, including “a personal checklist” to identify to any “factors that could impair human performance”. 

But, the KNKT says “the investigation did not find any detailed guidance nor procedure for pilots when using the… personal checklist, such as the assessment guidance for each impairment category.” 

The manual also includes a brief line about cockpit safety checks: “The cockpit should be checked every 30 minutes” but provides no further details. 

The KNKT is urging Batik Air Indonesia “to develop detailed procedures to conduct cockpit check for ensuring that the cockpit check can be implemented properly”.