Two Pilots From Africa’s Biggest Airline Fall Asleep Midflight, Miss Landing In Concerning Incident


Two pilots from Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s biggest airline, have been suspended after they fell asleep midflight and missed their landing.

The concerning incident occurred on Monday, during Ethiopian Airlines flight ET343 from Khartoum, Sudan, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

After the two pilots fell asleep during the flight, their plane overshot the runway at Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital.

Fortunately, however, the plane landed safely 25 minutes later after the pilots were woken up by an alarm.

According to the independent website The Aviation Herald, the two pilots only woke up after an alarm triggered when autopilot mode disconnected and went off.


Responding to the incident, Ethiopian Airlines said flight ET343 had temporarily lost communication with air traffic control but landed safely after it was restored.

The Airline went on to say that it had suspended the two pilots in question. However, the Airline did not explicitly say the two pilots had been sleeping.

“The concerned crew have been removed from operation pending further investigation.

“Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation,” it added.

London-based aviation analyst Alex Macheras blamed the incident on pilot fatigue. He added that the incident was deeply concerning.

Two Pilots From Africa’s Biggest Airline Fall Asleep Midflight, Miss Landing In Concerning Incident
[Picture: Twitter/Ethiopian Airlines]


Posting on Twitter, Macheras wrote,

“Deeply concerning incident at Africa’s largest airline — Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737. ET343 was still at cruising altitude of 37,000ft by the time it reached its destination Addis Ababa. Why hadn’t it started to descend for landing? Both pilots were asleep.”

“Air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilots numerous times without success

“After overflying the runway (still at cruising altitude), the autopilot disconnected – and this chime alert woke the pilots up — who then initiated a descent and eventually made a safe landing.

“Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety – internationally.

“Just last week, pilots publicly criticised UK leisure airline Jet2 for ‘refusing to recognise concerns about pilot fatigue’.”

In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines crashed and killed all 157 people on board. The Boeing 737 MAX crashed a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

The crash resulted in the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX for 20 months due to safety concerns.