But after flying past the destination airport, the Boeing’s autopilot disengaged, sounding an alarm and waking the two pilots…reports Asian Lite News
A pilot and co-pilot both fell asleep on an Ethiopian Airlines flight and missed the scheduled landing, raising concerns over crew fatigue, The Independent reported.
The pair were working flight ET343 from Khartoum, Sudan, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when the incident took place.
After cruising at 37,000 feet before arrival, the Boeing 737 was meant to descend to make its runway approach, but air traffic control raised the alarm when the aircraft maintained its altitude.
Operators tried to contact the pilot and co-pilot, but were unsuccessful.
But after flying past the destination airport, the Boeing’s autopilot disengaged, sounding an alarm and waking the two pilots.
The aircraft landed safely 25 minutes later after looping back toward the runway and stayed on the ground for about two-and-a-half hours before its next flight.
Aviation expert Alex Macheras tweeted: “Deeply concerning incident at Africa’s largest airline — Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 was still at cruising altitude of 37,000 feet by the time it reached Addis Ababa. Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep.
“Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety — internationally.”
Another Twitter user said: “Hopefully both pilots get fired and the aviation authorities start an investigation on the crew duty schedules of this airline. Thank god that nothing bad happened.”
A former air traffic control worker noted the frequency of such incidents, saying: “Trust me when I tell you it’s happened here as well.”
A pilot for Italy’s ITA Airways was fired in May this year after allegedly falling asleep during a flight from New York City to Rome.
The pilot and his co-pilot are both thought to have fallen asleep, leaving air traffic control unable to communicate with the aircraft for more than 10 minutes.