Batik Air: This is Your Captain, Sleeping

The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has published a preliminary report regarding a “serious” breach of safety incident involving the pilot and co-pilot of a Batik Air Airbus A-320 flying from Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi to Jakarta that occurred on 25 January 2024, 

As reported by, the KNKT concluded that the men occupying the right and left-hand seats of Batik Air BTK6723 had fallen soundly asleep for 28 minutes, causing the plane to fly outside the prescribed official route between the two cities on a flight that was scheduled to last 2 hours and 35 minutes.

During the flight, Indonesian Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) frantically used radio links to try to communicate with the aircraft registered as PK-LUV. Communication only resumed as the sleepy pilots awoke after flying past their destination, who then contacted air controllers as they reset their plane’s heading for Jakarta. 

However, no one was injured, and the aircraft was not damaged during the flight. The KNKT has classified the incident as “serious.” 

The Pilot-in-Command of PK-LUV was 32 years old, while the co-pilot (second in command) was 28. Four flight attendants also worked on the flight.

The KNKT report said earlier that during the flight from Jakarta to Kendari, the co-pilot complained he was feeling fatigued to the pilot-in-command, who urged him to rest for 30 minutes during the flight. On that flight, the pilot-in-command successfully landed the aircraft.

On the first segment of the round-trip journey, after disembarking all their passengers in Kendari, the two airmen relaxed in the cockpit, eating noodles.

Noodles finished, pilot and co-pilot flew the return flight to Jakarta at 8:05 pm as BTK 6723 carrying 153 passengers and crew. 

According to the KNKT committee, the two airmen removed their headsets upon reaching a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet while increasing the cockpit speaker system. The pilot then asked the co-pilot to take control of the aircraft while he took a nap. Later, the pilot awoke and offered the co-pilot the chance to nap, an offer he refused.  

In-flight cockpit recordings reviewed by the KNKT revealed the two men spoke for 30 seconds before the pilot resumed his nap, allowing the co-pilot to control the flight unilaterally. At 8:43, the air control center (ACC) could not establish communication with the flight deck, where both the people assigned to fly the aircraft were asleep.

After 12 minutes of no communication between the cockpit and ACC, Jakarta traffic controllers tried to re-establish radio contact without success. With traffic controllers growing increasingly concerned, a range of ways to communicate with the flight was tried, including contacting other aircraft in the area to determine if they had the aircraft in visual contact. 

Finally, at 9:11 am, some 28 minutes after their last communications, the two pilots awoke and became aware that both airmen had been asleep and their airplane was off course. Now wide awake, both pilot and co-pilot called ACC, and other airplanes were in the area. 

The plane returned to its assigned flight course and landed safely at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Volume A of Batik Air’s operating handbook emphasizes that pilots must be vigilant in reviewing their state of readiness for flight. The criteria include ensuring they are not suffering from any illness, not under the influence of medication or alcohol, not suffering undue stress or fatigue, and are not emotionally unstable.  

This decision to ground the pilots beginning in late January was confirmed on Saturday, 09 March 2024, by the Corporate Director of Corporate Communications for Batik Air, Danang Mandala Prihantoro, when he was contacted by

The Airline has told National Flight Safety officials that steps are being taken to maximize the “rest period” allowed to crew between flights. 

The Director-General of Civil Aviation continues to have the “serious” incident under review as they prepare their final report and recommendations.

Separately, The Jakarta Globe reports that the co-pilot had a 53-hour rest period prior to the 25 January flight. In possible mitigation for his nap in the cockpit while flying for Batik Air, the pilot was busy moving his family into a new house and sharing the care of newborn twins with his wife. As a result, his sleep on the night before the flight was disrupted as he remained awake to care for his one-month-old twins. 

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