The largest African air carrier "Ethiopian Airlines" announced today that two pilots, who, according to some reports, fell asleep during the flight from Khartoum to Addis Ababa have been suspended. The flight-tracking portal "Flight Aware" announced that the plane missed the runway of the international airport in the Ethiopian capital, after which it landed safely.
The "Aviation Herald" portal states that the pilots fell asleep during the flight and were awakened by an alarm that was activated after the auto-pilot was turned off. The plane turned around and returned to land 25 minutes later.
"Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation," the airline said on social media. "Safety has always been and will continue to be our first priority." the airline's statement says, which does not mention that the pilots fell asleep.
"Ethiopian Airlines pilots were reportedly asleep when they overflew Addis Ababa, their intended destination, at 37,000 feet earlier this week. The flight landed safely at ADD about 25 minutes after first overflying the airport."
reported Flightradar24. "According to media reports, the pilots were asleep on the flight deck at the time and were awoken by the aural warning associated with the autopilot disconnecting after overflying the airport.
The flight subsequently made a left turn and began descending back toward Addis Ababa, landing at 03:16 UTC, 25 minutes after first overflying the airport," they said in their report.
Keith Tonkin, managing director of the Australian aviation consultancy firm Aviation Projects, said airlines generally have protocols in place to ensure someone at the controls is awake at all times.
Ethiopian Airlines pilots were reportedly asleep when they overflew Addis Ababa, their intended destination, at 37,000 feet earlier this week.
"It's important [the pilots] be given a chance to explain themselves, but if there was some reason they couldn't stay alert or awake for such a short trip if they did violate some sort of rule or procedure, then there may be some action taken against them," he said.
"Fatigue management has also become more and more important as airlines have tried to maximize their crew resources, using risk management to optimize the crew to fly as many hours as they can."