The pilots of a commercial flight have been accused of falling asleep while in control of the plane 37,000 feet in the air.
It's always a blessing if you manage to sleep on an airplane, when you can skip having to shift about for hours in your tiny seat and trying to keeping entertained and instead just wake up at your destination, or at least when it's time for the in-flight meal.
It's a scenario I'd hope for anyone boarding a plane, but I must stress that's limited to the customers. Those whose actual job it is to be in charge of the aircraft should definitely stay conscious.
I've heard a lot about the wonders of autopilot taking some of the pressure off pilots when they're in the cockpit, and while I'm sure technology has come a long way, I think most people would prefer there to be at least one set of eyes on the situation. Eyes that are open; not snoozing.
But earlier this week, two pilots in charge of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 travelling from Khartoum in Sudan to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia allegedly used the flight to get a little nap and consequently missed the opportunity to begin the touch-down as planned.
The alleged incident took place on 15 August, with the Aviation Herald reporting that the plane continued past the point where it was supposed to begin to descend while still thousands of feet in the air. Air Traffic Control tried to contact the crew numerous times, but the pilots are said to have missed their calls due to the fact they were hanging out with the sandman.
When the plane flew over the runway in Ethiopia, autopilot in the aircraft automatically disconnected and kicked off an alarm, which thankfully succeeded in waking the pilots.
Deeply concerning incident at Africa’s largest airline — Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 #ET343 was still at cruising altitude of 37,000ft by the time it reached destination Addis Ababa— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) August 18, 2022
Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep. https://t.co/cPPMsVHIJD pic.twitter.com/RpnxsdtRBf
It's unclear whether any of the passengers on the flight were aware of the fact their aircraft had accidentally overshot its destination, but thankfully the crew managed to manoeuvre the plane to the ground for a safe landing about 25 minutes later.
The situation appeared to be confirmed by Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast data, which showed the aircraft flew past the runway before beginning its descent and preparing for another approach at the runway.
After the pilots landed the plane, it remained on the ground for about two and half hours before departing for its next flight. Here's hoping the pilots were sufficiently refreshed after getting a bit of shut-eye.
LADbible has reached out to Ethiopian Airlines for comment.
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