Both pilots of a Boeing 737 flight fell asleep while flying the plane at 37,000 feet. The plane with hundreds of passengers on board missed its scheduled landing.
The incident took place on Monday when two pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET343 slept mid-air while flying the plane. The flight took off from Khartoum, Sudan, and was scheduled to touch down at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 6:20 am.
Air Traffic Control Made Multiple Attempts to Contact Pilot
When the plane was close to Addis Abada, it was expected to descend for the final approach. But the air traffic control members noticed that besides landing at the airport, the plane remained flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet.
Multiple attempts were made from the ground to contact both pilots but no response was received.
The Plane Overshot The Runway Without Descending
As the plane overshot the runway without descending, the autopilot mode got disconnected and it also rang an alarm which made sleepy pilots woke up.
The reinvigorated pilots then made a loop and approached the runaway again, this time landing the aircraft safely 25 minutes later, as shown by Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast data, according to New York Post.
Following the incident, both pilots have now been suspended and an investigation has been ordered.
The in-flight nap of pilots is now termed as deeply concerning. Although aviation experts have underlined that pilot fatigue is nothing new and it continues to pose threats to air safety.
"Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety - internationally. Just last week, pilots publicly criticized UK leisure airline Jet2 for "refusing to recognize concerns about pilot fatigue," tweeted Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst.
ADS-B data confirmed the incident as it showed the aircraft maintained FL370 until after overflying the runway before the aircraft began to descend and maneouver for another approach, according to Aviation Herald.