According to an incident report by the Aviation Herald, two Ethiopian Airlines pilots fell asleep during a flight from Khartoum International Airport (KRT) to Addis Abeba Bole International Airport (ADD).
The report states that on August 15, 2022, flight ET343, a Boeing 737-800 with the registration ET-AOB, was traveling from KRT to ADD. Both pilots slept off while the airplane was cruising at 37,000 feet (FL370).
It was noted that something was amiss when the plane failed to descend for landing. “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,” the Aviation Herald reported.
Air Traffic Control (ATC) made many unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with the crew.
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 (ET-AOB) on flight #ET343 continued its cruise flight at 37,000 ft until over its destination Addis Abeba bc both pilots had fallen asleep. Only after an autopilot aural warning, the pilots woke up and landed safely.https://t.co/rGkT1CyXWj pic.twitter.com/7HXSIvHIrR
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) August 18, 2022
When the aircraft passed runway 25L while still at FL370, the autopilot disengaged. The disconnect wailer then alerted the crew, who then maneuvered the aircraft for a secure landing on runway 25L.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras described the incident as ‘deeply concerning, and later said that “pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety – internationally.”
Some also expressed sympathy for the pilots: “I know some pilots from Ethiopian, they are worked to death. They’ve said numerous times how insanely tired they are.”
Ethiopian Airlines was contacted for comment, but as of the time of publication, no response had been received.