A commercial pilot fell asleep in the cockpit of a freight plane and over-flied the destination by 46 km. He was the only pilot aboard the twin-propeller Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftain. The plane was on autopilot when the incident took place. The pilot has been put under investigation.
The incident occured on 8th November, the flight was between Devonport, Tasmania and King Island, Bass Strait.
The airline said the pilot “unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft”.
“The issue became apparent when air traffic control was unable to contact the pilot in flight, and the aircraft traveled past the intended destination point while operating on autopilot,” the statement said.
Air traffic control made several radio calls to the unresponsive pilot. The pilot later landed safely on King Island. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority will investigate the incident and the company’s management of pilot fatigue.
The pilots employer Vortex Air said this flight was the pilot’s first day back at work after taking leave. He continued flying that day.
Local newspapers said the pilot reported for duty despite having had little or no sleep the previous night due to a personal crisis.