2 commercial pilots flying and carrying 40 passengers were alleged to have fallen asleep during a flight from Honolulu to Hilo last week after the flight missed its destination before turning and landed safely. Amazingly enough, the plane overshot by 24 kilometers without any decrease in altitude and speed, while numerous attempts from the control tower operators to reach the cockpit received no response.
The pilots, who work for Go! Airline, a low cost fare airline in Hawaii, were contacted 11 times in the space of 25 minutes. Honolulu and Hilo are separated by some 350 kilometers. At the time the flight changed its course back towards its original destination, the altitude still remained at 21 thousand feet.
When the pilots finally responded to the contact, they were asked if the flight were having problem but both insisted they were not facing any problem. However, analysts detected something amiss. The employer, Go! Airline has immediately launched an investigation, which might see both the pilot and the co-pilot be handed a warning, suspended or even having their licenses revoked. So far no technical faults have been found in the plane.
There have been past complaints in the airline relating to the problem of staff shortages. As a result, pilots were given tight schedules which in turn force them to fly air crafts in exhaustion.
Presently, most commercial air crafts and plane are equipped with the autopilot function that can set the plane’s route, altitude and speed. But manual handling will be required whenever the craft is facing turbulence or problem in descending and ascending.
Hopefully no pilots in Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Air Asia are forced to work more than necessary to avoid them sleeping in the cockpit.