Pilots fall asleep while flying at 37,000 Ft as desperate air traffic controllers try to wake them up
New Delhi, Aug 19: 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 happened when Boeing 737-800 ET-343 was flying at 37,000 feet from Khartoum to Addis Ababa on August 15 when the pilots fell asleep, according to Aviation Herald.
The pilots were meant to begin their descent to Addis Ababa Bole Airport. According to the Aviation Herald, Air Traffic Control made attempted to contact the pilots but were unsuccessful.
Finally, the crew awoke, after the aircraft's autopilot disconnected and sounded an alarm.
The pilots managed to land the plane safely and it stayed on the runway for around two-and-a-half hours before it left for its next flight.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras in a tweet said that the development was concerning and more so because the aircraft overflew the runway at 37,000 feet.
"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.
A similar incident was reported earlier in May when two pilots fell asleep while flying a plane from New York to Rome.
Pilot associations have slammed the aviation industry's inability to understand pilot fatigue and likened it to 'handing car keys to a drunk driver'.