Two Ethiopian Airlines pilots fell asleep while flying a flight from Sudan’s Khartoum to Ethiopia capital Addis Ababa and missed their landing. The incident took place on Monday, according to Aviation Herald, which added that the Air Traffic Control (ATC) raised an alert when flight ET343 approached the airport but did not start the descent. While the pilots fell asleep, the Boeing 737’s autopilot system kept the plane cruising at 37,000 feet, the outlet further said. It further said that the aircraft remained on the ground for about 2.5 hours before departing for its next flight.
The ATC tried to contact the pilots several times but couldn’t succeed. When the plane overflew the runway where it was supposed to land, the autopilot disconnected. That triggered an alarm, which woke up the pilots, according to Aviation Herald.
They then maneuvered the aircraft around for landing on the runway 25 minutes later, the outlet further said.
Fortunately, no one was harmed and the plane landed safely.
Data from aviation surveillance system ADS-B confirmed that the incident took place and the aircraft flew over the runway. It has posted an image of the aircraft’s flight path, which shows an infinity-like loop near the Addis Ababa airport.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras also posted about the event on Twitter, calling it “deeply concerning”. He also blamed pilot fatigue for it.
A similar incident was reported in May when two pilots fell asleep on flight from New York to Rome as plane travelled 38,000 feet above ground.
An investigation was carried out by the aviation regulator, which confirmed that both the pilots of ITA Airways were sleeping as their Airbus 330 flew over France.