Pilots suspended after falling asleep for half an hour during flight

11 March 2024, 12:31

The Batik Air flight - which was carrying more than 150 passengers - was travelling to the Indonesia capital of Jakarta. Picture: Getty

By Flaminia Luck

Two pilots have been temporarily suspended after falling asleep during a flight in Indonesia.

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The pilot and co-pilot were both asleep for 28 minutes, a report into the incident has found.

The Batik Air flight - travelling from Southeast Sulawesi to the capital of Jakarta - was carrying 153 passengers. No one was hurt and the flight landed safely.

However, the incident on 25 January resulted in a series of navigation errors, the preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said.

One of the pilots had not rested adequately the night before the flight, according to the KNKT report which was uploaded to the agency’s website in February and seen by Agence-France Presse on Friday.

About 90 minutes after the plane took off, the captain was given permission from his second-in-command to rest for a while.

The co-pilot then took over command of the aircraft but accidentally fell asleep, the report said.

It added the co-pilot was reportedly tired from helping care for his newborn twins.

The flight lasted two hours and 35 minutes. Picture: Getty

A few minutes after the last recorded transmission by the co-pilot, the area control centre in Jakarta tried to contact the aircraft but received no answer.

28 minutes after the last recorded transmission, the pilot woke up and realised his co-pilot was asleep and that the aircraft was not on the correct flight path.

The report said he immediately woke his colleague up, responded to the area control calls and corrected the flight path.

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The transport ministry has said it “strongly reprimands” Batik Air for the incident.

The air transport director general, Maria Kristi Endah Murni, said: “We will carry out an investigation and review of the night flight operation in Indonesia related with fatigue risk management for Batik Air and all flight operators".

Batik Air said in a statement hat it “operates with adequate rest policy” and that it was “committed to implement all safety recommendations”.

Investigators have not identified the pilots, but said they were both Indonesian and aged 32 and 28.