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11 Mar, 2024 16:32

Pilots fell asleep mid-flight with 157 people onboard – report

The incident occurred during a regional flight in Indonesia in late January
Pilots fell asleep mid-flight with 157 people onboard – report

Both pilots of a domestic Indonesian flight from Kendari to the capital Jakarta on January 25 were asleep for almost half an hour during the two-hour and 35-minute-long flight, a preliminary investigation has found. 

The plane veered off its designated course during the 28 minutes that both the pilot and co-pilot were asleep, according to the report.

The country’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) probe into the Batik Air flight, which carried 157 people, acknowledged that the plane eventually landed safely at its destination. 

The KNKT report did not identify the pilots, only describing the captain as a 32-year-old and second-in-command as a 28-year-old. Both are Indonesian citizens and both had reportedly passed health checks and tested negative for alcohol.

However, according to media reports, the co-pilot had notified the captain earlier in the day that he had not had “proper rest.” The KNKT report highlighted that the man had one-month-old twins and had moved residences the day before the flight and was thus struggling with a lack of sleep.

According to the report, about 30 minutes after takeoff the captain asked his co-pilot for permission to rest and woke up just under an hour later. He then asked whether his cockpit mate wanted to sleep himself but after receiving no for an answer went back to sleep while the latter remained in control of the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the co-pilot later “inadvertently fell asleep” after making contact with Jakarta’s air traffic control center. According to the report, air traffic control repeatedly tried to contact the cockpit but received no response for 28 minutes until the captain woke up and realized that the aircraft “was not on the correct flight path.” 

The pilot put the flight back on track, and the plane went on to safely land in Jakarta. No one was injured and there was no damage to the aircraft.

According to the news agency AFP, Indonesia’s civil aviation director, Maria Kristi Endah Murni, said the Transportation Ministry “strongly reprimands” Batik Air over the incident and that the two pilots have been placed on leave according to standard operating procedure pending a further investigation.