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Two Ethiopian Airlines pilots sleep during flight, overfly airport: Suspended
Then what saved the day for the passengers? After the plane overflew the destination airport at height and full speed without descent, the autopilot disconnected! And the disconnect wailer woke up the pilots! Thereupon they scrambled to manoeuvre the flight back for another approach to the airport and it landed 25 minutes later than scheduled, safely at their allotted runway 25L.

CAIRO, Aug 20: The Ethiopian Airlines has confirmed that its pilots slept during a flight to Addis Ababa from Khartoum on Monday. The Boeing 737-800 was flying at a height of 37,000 feet when both the pilots fell asleep and missed the destination and overflew the airport.

On Saturday, confirming the incident in a statement, the Ethiopian Airlines said that both pilots have been suspended pending further investigation and removed from the roster.

"When the pilots fell asleep ... the aircraft continued past the top of descent" as the flight was on autopilot, Aviation Herald reported. The air traffic control could not establish contact with the pilots despite several attempts as they were fast asleep.

Then what saved the day for the passengers? After the plane overflew the destination airport at height and full speed without descent, the autopilot disconnected! And the disconnect wailer woke up the pilots! Thereupon they scrambled to manoeuvre the flight back for another approach to the airport and it landed 25 minutes later than scheduled, safely at their allotted runway 25L

"We have received a report which indicates Ethiopian flight number ET343 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa temporarily lost communication with Addis Ababa Air Traffic Control on 15 August 2022," an Ethiopian Airlines statement said on Friday.

"The flight later landed safely after communication was restored. The concerned crew have been removed from operation pending further investigation. 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," it said.

Aviation experts tweeted that "pilot exhaustion" could have caused the incident. Of late there has been a spike in the incidence of pilot fatigue around the world which can be a major safety issue.

It has also been commented that "the pilots may get stress due to frequent flight without enough rest. The pilots' final control of the aircraft is admirable." Some say the Ethiopian Airlines has a reputation.

Recently an Italian Flying Pilot was sacked after "falling asleep" during a flight from New York to Rome. The co-pilot was taking an "authorized rest."

All about Ethiopian Airlines' Addis Ababa Boeing crash

Incidentally, it was again the Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX that met with one of the worst aviation tragedies in the world in 2019 near Addis Ababa. But the glitch has been traced to the MAX model introduced in 2017 with larger CFM LEAP engines that did not sync fully with the MCAS (Monoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System) (which failed in the crash) that swivels the horizontal tail to move the nose. The faulty MCAS pushed the plane's nose down, leaving pilots unable to regain control, leading to the accident. May be the pilots were in the dark about MCAS as with the FAA's knowledge it was not included in the manual. The more they pushed it up, the more it went down. In the new model the wings, fuselage and the main landing gear were also sought to be strengthened to carry those heavier engines, but it did not work well. After a 20-month grounding and modification, MAX is now reborn 737 8. India is buying the maximum number of this new avatar.

In the earlier Lion Air crash of 737 MAX also the MCAS was found to be a key contributing factor.

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