Politics

Ethiopian Airlines Suspends Pilots After They Reportedly Fell Asleep, Missed Landing


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Ethiopian Airlines has suspended the crew of a flight on which both pilots reportedly fell asleep and missed their landing window in Addis Ababa.

The plane eventually landed safely, but experts said the incident raised questions about pilot fatigue on the airline, the largest air carrier in Africa.

The Aviation Herald, a news website for the aviation industry, reported Thursday that the two pilots were flying a Boeing 737 from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to Addis Ababa, apparently on Monday. “After overflying [the runway] … the autopilot disconnected, the disconnect wailer woke the crew up, who then maneuvered the aircraft for a safe landing,” the report said.

Ethiopian Airlines said Friday that the crew had 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.”

The statement did not say whether the pilots had been sleeping.

Experts said the incident could have been a result of the airline overworking the pilots or other external factors.

Hassan Shahidi of the Flight Safety Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, told VOA that pilot fatigue “would certainly be investigated in terms of exactly how many hours they were flying and potentially whether fatigue or scheduling may have played a role in this, but it is, at the end of the day, the responsibility of the crew if they are fatigued or if they are tired, to report that they’re tired.”