Ethiopian Airlines on Friday said it suspended two pilots who fell asleep at the helm of a flight earlier this week between Khartoum, Sudan, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, pending an investigation.
Flight 343 was en route to Addis Ababa Monday, having reached 37,000 feet altitude, when the pilots fell asleep, according to Aviation Herald.
The plane missed the top of its descent and continued on the flight management computer’s preset route toward runway 25L at the airport in Addis Ababa, which sits at an altitude of 7,600 feet.
About 29,000 feet below the aircraft and its sleeping pilots, air traffic controllers attempted to contact the crew numerous times to no avail. The plane, still 37,000 feet up in the air, overflew the runway and then the autopilot disconnected.
This set off a wailing alarm that jolted the two pilots awake. At that juncture, they maneuvered the aircraft to land safely at runway 25L, around 25 minutes after overflying the runway, Aviation Herald reported.
After landing, the plane stayed on the tarmac for 2½ hours.
Ethiopian Airlines released a statement on Facebook Friday responding to the incident.
“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… 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 statement read.