Air India pilots take nap and leave plane unmanned
Sunday, May 5, 2013
New Delhi -- Two Air India pilots have been suspended after both deciding to take a nap during a flight. The pilots had turned on the auto pilot and then proceeded to leave the cockpit unmanned in order to go to sleep in business class. They asked flight attendants to keep an eye on the plane, after which one of the attendants accidentally switched off the auto pilot.
Taking a nap in business class
The co-pilot was the first to leave the cockpit of the Airbus A320 to take a break on the flight from Bangkok to New Delhi. He asked a flight attendant to take his place during his rest. However, not long after, the captain also decided to take a nap and also asked a flight attendant to take his place behind the 'wheel'. He then left for the business class to join his co-pilot in taking a nap.
Air India pilots rudely awoken
But the pilots were rudely awoken when one of the two flight attendants accidentally switched off the auto pilot that was meant to keep the Air India aircraft in the air. The pilots rushed back to the cockpit after being warned, and were able to prevent the plane from crashing. But a third attendant on the flight had witnessed the incident and subsequently reported it to Air India management, after which the four crew members were suspended indefinitely. Exactly how long the cockpit was unmanned remains unclear, though this purportedly was somewhere between twenty and forty minutes.
Pilots falling asleep
In this particular case, it's not clear why the pilots felt they needed to take a nap. But research among pilots of Dutch airlines Transavia, Arkefly, KLM and Martinair last year indicated that approximately 30 percent of pilots have fallen asleep during a flight before. One in fifteen even admitted to having flown on a flight where both pilots fell asleep at some point.
Written by: Team Flight-Delayed