The Pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Fall Asleep Mid-Air, and the Plane Does Not Land

Jeremy Caroll

Aviation Herald, a website that covers news in the commercial aviation industry, reports that two pilots operating a Boeing 737-80 on an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft fell asleep and failed to arrive safely at their destination.

The occurrence was on August 15th, if that helps. Sleepy pilots caused a Boeing 737-80 that was flying from Sudan to Ethiopia to miss the runway at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The plane was heading from Sudan to Ethiopia. After the plane reached the top of its descent near Addis Abeba while it was still traveling at FL370, air traffic control made numerous attempts (all of which were unsuccessful) to get in touch with the pilots.

According to The Aviation Herald, after over a half an hour had passed, the “disconnect wailer woke up the crew, who then navigated the aircraft for a safe landing on the runway.” According to reports from the Bloomberg news agency, the pilots were subsequently placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.

The flight from Khartoum to Addis Abeba that took place on Monday covered the nearly two-hour trip between the two cities. It was not obvious how many people were on board, despite the fact that the Boeing 737-800 has the capacity to carry up to 189 passengers, depending on the configuration of the seats.

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A Statement on the Matter from Ethiopian Airlines

According to an official statement issued by Ethiopian Airlines, which went as follows: “The airplane eventually landed safely when communication was restored. The crew members in question have been taken off of service pending the results of additional investigation. In light of the findings of the investigation, appropriate corrective action will be implemented at the appropriate time. Our number one concern has been and will always be the well-being of those around us.

The incidence was verified by the ADS-B aviation surveillance system, which also made public a photograph of the flight path taken by the aircraft. The picture portrays a loop that looks like it goes on forever and is located rather close to the Addis Abeba airport.

Ongoing Investigation

The airline, Ethiopian Airlines, reported that the aircraft “momentarily lost communication” with the air traffic control system, although they did not specify whether or whether the pilots were asleep at the wheel. This is entirely understandable taking into consideration that the incident occurred a little over a week ago, and the airline is currently conducting an in-depth investigation into it.

Alex Macheras, who specializes in aviation, is an analyst, and he says the occurrence is “extremely unsettling.” In a tweet sent out on Thursday, he claimed that this incident brings up the topic of pilot fatigue, which is something that a lot of American pilots have talked about.

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Recent Protest in the United States

During the month of June, more than 1,300 pilots for Southwest Airlines staged a demonstration in Dallas, Texas, to demand improved working conditions. In a statement that was given to NBC News at the time, the union stated that they had been in the process of negotiating a contract for more than two years. According to the union, “pilot weariness rates have hit an all-time high.” [Citation needed]

For two-pilot crews on long-range flights, planned 40-minute nap opportunities on the flight deck seat have been shown to provide an average of 23 minutes of sleep and to improve alertness and performance at top of descent, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which explains this information in its Fatigue Management Guide for Airline Operators.

In addition, it stated that “A little nap can increase alertness and performance and is an important mitigating approach for fatigue management.”

A brief introduction to Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is the leading airline in Africa. The company has 138 aircraft and flies to over 130 destinations, including both domestic and foreign destinations. According to information that was published on the airline’s website, the company’s revenue grew to $3.7 billion for the 2019–20 fiscal year.

In addition to providing passenger transportation for approximately 9.6 million passengers in the year 2020, the state-owned airline also operates a private aviation school, provides freight services, and participates in code-sharing partnerships with other major airlines in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

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