Pilot, Co-Pilot of Indonesian Airline Fall Asleep for 30 Minutes on Flight with 153 Passengers on Board, Veer Off Path

Batik Air
A Batik Air aircraft in flight. Instagram

Two Indonesian pilots fell asleep for almost 30 minutes mid-flight, an investigation has revealed.

A pilot and co-pilot were simultaneously asleep for about 28 minutes. The Batik Air flight was travelling from South East Sulawesi to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on 25 January, a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Committee, also known as the Komite Nasional Keselamatan Transportasu (KNKT) said.

After the Pilots Dozed Off, the Plane Made a Series of Navigation Errors

The incident resulted in a series of navigation errors, but the Airbus A320's 153 passengers and four flight attendants were unharmed during the flight that lasted two hours and 35 minutes.

The transport ministry "strongly reprimands" Batik Air over the incident, said the air transport director general, Maria Kristi Endah Murni, who called for airlines to pay more attention to their aircrew's rest time.

"We will carry out an investigation and review of the night flight operation in Indonesia related with fatigue risk management for Batik Air and all flight operators," Kristi said.

Batik Air said in a statement on Saturday that it "operates with adequate rest policy" and that it was "committed to implement all safety recommendations." The pilots involved in the 25 January incident had been temporarily suspended, the statement added.

Pilot Did Not Sleep Well the Night Before, Asked Co-Pilot to Take Over Command of Aircraft But He Also Fell Asleep

The KNKT report, which was uploaded to the agency's website in late February, revealed that one of the pilots had not rested adequately on the night before the flight, according to the report.

About 90 minutes after the plane took off, the captain asked for permission from his second-in-command to rest for a while, with the request being granted. The co-pilot then took over command of the aircraft, but also inadvertently fell asleep, the report said.

"The second-in-command had one-month-old twin babies. His wife took care of the babies and he assisted while at home," the report said.

A few minutes after the last recorded transmission by the co-pilot, the area control centre in Jakarta tried to contact the aircraft. It received no answer. Twenty-eight minutes after the last recorded transmission, the pilot woke up and realised his co-pilot was asleep and that the aircraft was not on the correct flight path.

He immediately woke his colleague up, responded to the calls from Jakarta and corrected the flight path, the report said.

The plane landed safely after the incident. Investigators did not identify the pilots, but said they were Indonesians and were aged 32 and 28. KNKT urged Batik Air to conduct regular cockpit checks and ensure that pilots and cabin crew were rested before their flights.