A Batik Air aircraft with 155 people on board made an emergency landing at El Tari Airport in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Sunday after its pilot reportedly fell sick and fainted.
Batik Air corporate communication strategic officer Danang Mandala Prihantoro said flight ID 6548, an Airbus 320-200CEO, took off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, for Kupang at 9:12 a.m. on Sunday.
Prior to the flight, the aircraft and crew members underwent a preflight check and were declared airworthy.
While approaching Kupang, pilot Djarot Hermanto complained of a headache, saying he felt weak and was unable to concentrate. He immediately received first aid from crew members, Danang said.
“The copilot immediately took command and informed the airport that the aircraft would perform an emergency landing. The crew followed standard operating procedures as stipulated in the [Batik Air] manual,” Danang told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He added that the flight crew had been trained to fly the aircraft by themselves in an emergency situation. The aircraft landed at El Tari Airport at 12:46 p.m. local time, only six minutes behind the schedule.
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Passenger Libby Sinlaeloe said the incident had caused a panic among passengers.
“The engines were shut down immediately when the aircraft reached the end of the runway, causing passengers to panic and caused a commotion in the cabin,” she said.
The pilot was transported immediately to Siloam Hospital in Kupang after the plane landed.
Danang said Batik Air flew a replacement aircraft from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, to make sure the incident did not disrupt the airline’s operations.
The Transportation Ministry’s air transportation director general, Polana B. Pramesti, lauded the flight crew for following the proper procedure and landing the aircraft safely during the emergency situation.
“This should be a reminder for every airline to perform a medical check-up on every pilot, cabin crew as well as engineer. This is important to ensure the safety and security of passengers during a flight,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
Separately, East Nusa Tenggara Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Johannes Bangun said that authorities were currently investigating the incident.