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Ethiopian Airlines suspends pilots who fell asleep during flight

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The pilots of flight ET343 from Khartoum International Airport (KRT) to Addis Abeba Bole International Airport (ADD) on August 15, 2022, have been suspended by Ethiopian Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines referred to a social media post published on the airline’s Facebook page:

“The concerned crew have been removed from operation pending further investigation. Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation,” the post said.

While cruising at 37,000 feet (FL370) on flight ET343 from Khartoum to Addis Abeba, both pilots fell asleep while the aircraft was on autopilot.

When the Boeing 737-800 flew past runway 25L while it was still at FL370, the autopilot disengaged. The disconnect wailer then woke the crew, who steered the plane for a safe landing on runway 25L.

A 2021 survey conducted by research company Frontiers indicates that pilot fatigue is not a new hazard, and that in-flight fatigue has been reported by 68 to 91% of commercial airline pilots.

The flight “temporarily lost communication” with Addis Ababa Air Traffic Control, according to Ethiopian Airlines, which has not confirmed whether the concerned pilots did indeed fall asleep.

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