Two pilots fell asleep on the job during one of the most crucial parts of their flight. The pair were in charge of a Boeing 737 that was travelling from Khartoum, Sudan to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The airliner was at its cruising altitude of 37,000 feet (11,278 metres) and was due to begin its descent to Addis Ababa Bole Airport. Air traffic controllers at the airport were shocked when their flight radar showed the plane had overshot its destination. The pilots woke up after the autopilot disconnected and the alarm sounded. They quickly did a loop of the skies above the airport and successfully landed the plane. None of the concerned crew or passengers on board were hurt.
An airline spokesperson made a statement about the incident. She said: "We have received a report which indicates the Ethiopian flight…temporarily lost communication with air traffic control.…The flight later landed safely after communication was restored." The airline said the pilots "have been removed from operation pending further investigation". It added: "Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation. Safety has always been and will continue to be our first priority." An aviation analyst said the incident might have been the result of pilot fatigue. He said this was "nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety".
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