Ethiopian Airlines plane misses landing after both pilots fall asleep

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An Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Sudan to Ethiopia missed its landing last week after the aircraft’s two pilots fell asleep.

Uba Group

On 15 August, flight ET343 of Ethiopia’s largest airline was flying from Khartoum to Addis Ababa, reported Aviation Herald.

Alerts were raised when the flight approached the airport but did not start to descend.

While Air Traffic Control tried to contact the plane’s crew, the aircraft’s autopilot system kept it cruising at 37,000ft
An alarm was triggered, waking up the crew, when the autopilot disconnected after the plane flew over the runway where it was supposed to land.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) data obtained by The Aviation Herald confirmed that the aircraft continued to cruise at 37,000 feet before overflying the runway.

ADS-B is surveillance technology that allows for an interface between air traffic control and the aircraft.

Data showed the aircraft subsequently began to descend and maneouver for another approach.

The plane stayed on the runway for around two and a half hours before it departed for its next flight.
Aviation analysts have raised the alarm after the incident and said it reflected how overworked and fatigued pilots are.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras described the event as “deeply concerning”.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Macheras said: “Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety – internationally.”

In May, a pilot working for Italy’s state-run airline ITA was fired for allegedly falling asleep at the controls during a flight from New York to Rome.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that both pilots had dozed off in the cockpit at the same time during a flight on 30 April, leaving the plane out of contact with air traffic control for just over 10 minutes.

Last month, pilots’ union Balpa slammed budget airline Jet2 for refusing to “recognise increasing concern from its pilots about fatigue and stress caused by roster disruption”.

Ethiopian Airlines removes crew who allegedly fell asleep on air, pending further investigation!

Ethiopian Airlines said it has “removed from operation pending further investigation,” its crew who were operating the flight number ET343 en route from Khartoum to Addis Abeba on 15 August, and that “appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation”.

According to a report on The Aviation Herald, “an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, registration ET-AOB performing flight ET-343 from Khartoum (Sudan) to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), was enroute at FL370 when the pilots fell asleep. The aircraft continued past the top of descent maintaining FL370 and continued along the FMC route set up for an approach to runway 25L without descending however. ATC tried to contact the crew numerous times without success.
After overflying runway 25L at FL370 the autopilot disconnected, the disconnect wailer woke the crew up who then maneuvered the aircraft for a safe landing on runway 25L about 25 minutes after overflying the runway at FL370.”