SHOCKING! Plane misses landing after both pilots of Ethiopian Airlines flight fall asleep at 37,000 feet
In a shocking aviation incident, both the pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines flight fell asleep at 37,000 feet cruising altitude and missed landing the aircraft, raising serious flight safety concerns.
- Pilots on Ethiopian Airlines flights slept at cruising altitude
- Missed landing the aircraft and went past the airport
- Landed 25 minutes later, off rostered from service
A major aviation was averted when a disengaged autopilot woke both the pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Khartoum (Sudan) to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). As per a report on The Aviation Herald, an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-343 operating a Boeing 737-800 with registration ET-AOB was enroute Ethiopia at FL370 (Flight Level 370/37,000 feet) when both the pilots of the flight fell asleep. The aircraft then continued past the top of descent, maintaining the FL370 and continued along the route set up for an approach to runway 25L at the Addis Ababa international airport without descending.
The ATC at the airport tried to contact the crew numerous times without success. As per the report, after overflying runway 25L at FL370, the autopilot got disconnected and the disconnect wailer woke the crew. The pilots then manoeuvred back the aircraft safely to land at the Addis Ababa airport runway 25L, 25 minutes after overflying the runway at FL370.
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
Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep. https://t.co/cPPMsVHIJD pic.twitter.com/RpnxsdtRBf — Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) August 18, 2022
How dangerous is the incident?
An aviation analyst Alex Macheras in a tweet said “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 its destination Addis Ababa. Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep,” he wrote in a tweet.
He also blamed pilot fatigue for the incident "Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety - internationally. Just last week, pilots publicly criticised UK leisure airline Jet2 for “refusing to recognise concerns about pilot fatigue”"
Boeing 737 MAX crash
To recap, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max was involved in a fatal crash back 2019, killing everyone on board, that resulted in the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX planes globally. Although the autopilot was engaged and this incident will surely call for a serious investigation. As per reports, both the pilots have been off rostered till enquiry.