The Indonesian pilots fell asleep during the flight to Jakarta

The airplane with 153 passengers flew over Indonesia without the pilots' control for 28 minutes. The captain of Batik Air and his assistant fell asleep at the controls during a night flight. The Airbus A320 veered off course and forced ground services to urgently change the navigation of other airliners. The possibility of deploying Indonesian Air Force fighters was also discussed.
The Airbus A-320 departed from Kendari (Sulawesi Island) and was headed for the country's capital, Jakarta. The flight was at a cruising altitude of 11,000 meters.
Thirty-two minutes after takeoff, the 32-year-old aircraft captain fell asleep, having received approval from the co-pilot to rest. After 45 minutes, the captain woke up, offered to take over the controls and allow the 28-year-old co-pilot to take a nap, but he refused, after which the captain fell asleep again.
For the next 20 minutes, the co-pilot regularly communicated with air traffic controllers and spoke with flight attendants, but soon he also fell asleep. Ground services tried to contact the aircraft for half an hour, but without success.
At this point, the question arose of deploying Indonesian Air Force fighters in case the flight had been hijacked by terrorists. In the end, the military aircraft remained on the ground. Many Indonesian security experts, by the way, express puzzlement. After all, if the aircraft had really been under the control of hijackers, they could have easily redirected it to any target, for example, Jakarta.
Twenty-eight minutes after the last recorded communication between the co-pilot and ground services, the aircraft captain woke up. He quickly realized that the plane had deviated from its course and his assistant was asleep. The pilot explained to the controllers that there were "communication problems" on board. Fortunately, the Airbus was able to return to the correct course without any problems, and half an hour later, the plane landed safely at Jakarta airport. The passengers never learned about the incident.
The total flight time was 2 hours and 35 minutes. According to the rules of short-haul flights, the aircraft captain could indeed briefly fall asleep, provided that the co-pilot took control and fully monitored the route. However, according to the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, the co-pilot did not have the opportunity to rest well the night before the flight because he was helping his wife take care of their month-old twins at home. This was the cause of the incident, which endangered not only the passengers of the flight but also people on the ground.
Batik Air promised to implement all recommendations to improve the safety of night flights. Both employees have been temporarily suspended from operating aircraft.
In turn, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation issued a stern warning to the carrier regarding the incident, said Kristi Enda Murni, head of the country's Department of Air Transportation.
"We will conduct an investigation and examine night flights in Indonesia, as well as analyze the level of pilot fatigue and the associated risks for Batik Air and all other flight operators," she said.
Batik Air is an Indonesian airline headquartered in Jakarta. It operates regular passenger flights between airports within and outside the country. It is a subsidiary of the low-cost carrier Lion Air. As of last year, Batik Air had 81 aircraft in its fleet. The average age of the aircraft is 5.5 years.
Since 2013, Batik Air has been included by the European Union in the list of airlines whose aircraft are prohibited from using EU airspace.
Cases of crew falling asleep at the controls have occurred before. For instance, in August 2022, both pilots of Ethiopian Airlines fell asleep during a flight when the aircraft was at an altitude of 11 kilometers, and they ended up oversleeping their destination airport, miraculously landing the liner.
In 2009, pilots of Northwest Airlines remained out of contact with ground services for an extended period and apparently missed their destination point: the aircraft flew past Minneapolis airport. The incident was investigated by a special safety commission, and one of the main theories was that the pilots simply dozed off.
And just a year before that, a flight from Honolulu flew past Hilo airport, where it was supposed to land. All because both pilots were asleep: controllers couldn't reach them via radio for eighteen minutes.
Messages will appear here soon.
You can add one right now!