Two pilots fell asleep and missed their landing during a flight from Sudan to Ethiopia on Monday, according to a report by commercial aviation news site Aviation Herald.
The incident took place on board an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 flight K from Khartoum, Sundan, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the report, “when the pilots fell asleep, the aircraft continued past the top of descent.”
Data obtained by the website showe that the aircraft was cruising at 37,000 feet on autopilot when it failed to descend at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, its scheduled destination, on August 15.
However, an alarm was triggered when the plane overshot the runway and continued along the route.
The aircraft subsequently began to descend, landing safely25 minutes later.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADSB) data shows the aircraft overflying the runway, before beginning its descent and maneuvering for another approach.
Ethiopian Airlines management confirmed the incident in a statement issued on Friday.
“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 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,” the statement read.
Aviation analyst, Alex Macheras has since taken to Twitter to express his shock at the “deeply concerning incident,” which he suggests may have been the result of pilot exhaustion.
“Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety — internationally,” he tweeted.
The report comes just months after pilots at SouthWest Airlines and Delta Airlines warned airline executives that pilot exhaustion was on the rise and urged them to treat fatigue and the resulting mistakes as a safety risk.