(CMR) Two pilots for Ethiopian Airlines fell asleep and missed their landing while flying from Sudan to Ethiopia on Monday, according to a report from Aviation Herald.
Passenger flight ET343, a Boeing 737-800, was traveling from Khartoum to Addis Ababa when the pilots nodded off and flew past the runway. Aviation Herald reported that the aircraft continued past the top of descent, maintaining FL370, and continued along the route set up for approach to runway 25L without descending.
Air Traffic Control tried to contact the crew numerous times without success. After overflying the runway, the autopilot disconnected, the disconnect wailer woke the crew up, who then maneuvered the aircraft for a safe landing.
Ethiopian Airlines would not confirm whether the pilots fell asleep, but it did put out a statement Friday stating that the flight “temporarily” lost communication with air traffic control, CBS News reported. The airline said the concerned crew was removed from operation, opening further investigation.
Ethiopian Airlines said, “Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation. Safety has always been and will continue to be our first priority.”
CBS reported that pilot fatigue is not new. A study conducted by Frontierslast year found that in-flight fatigue has been reported by 68 to 91% of commercial airline pilots. Earlier this year, the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association told airline executives in an open letter that exhaustion amongst crews has become dangerous.
“The many negative impacts of fatigue are well-documented — impaired judgment, lack of concentration, reduced in-flight attention, and heightened emotional activity leading to poor cognitive processing, along with decreased reaction time and slower hand-eye coordination, to name a few,” the SWAPA wrote.