Ethiopian Airlines suspends pilots who fell asleep at controls during flight

Markus Mainka /

Ethiopian Airlines has suspended the pilots who fell asleep while operating flight ET343 from Khartoum International Airport (KRT) to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) on August 15, 2022.

Responding to a query from AeroTime, Ethiopian Airline 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. 

Flight ET343 was en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa and was cruising at 37,000 feet (FL370), when both pilots fell asleep while on autopilot.

The Boeing 737-800’s autopilot disconnected when it flew past runway 25L, still at FL370, and the disconnect wailer then woke up the crew, who maneuvered the aircraft 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.

Ethiopian Airlines has not confirmed whether the concerned pilots did indeed fall asleep and instead referred to the incident as the flight having “temporarily lost communication” with Addis Ababa Air Traffic Control.

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