During a flight, the pilot falls asleep and misses his destination by over 70 miles.


During a flight, the pilot falls asleep and misses his destination by over 70 miles.

According to the latest report released Wednesday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, a pilot in Australia fell asleep mid-flight “likely owing to a combination of weariness and moderate hypoxia [lack of sufficient oxygen]” (ATSB).

The pilot “was unresponsive to air traffic control calls for 40 minutes due to weariness likely aggravated by moderate hypoxia by the intermittent use of supplementary oxygen,” according to a recent ATSB investigation into the incident, which occurred in July 2020.

When the plane was “approximately 111 kilometers [about 70 miles]” from its scheduled destination of Redcliffe, the pilot awoke and contact was regained. Instead, the plane landed safely in Australia’s Gold Coast Airport, about 56 miles south of Brisbane, according to the bureau.

The pilot was flying a Cessna 208B Caravan aircraft on an afternoon ferry flight from Cairns to Redcliffe (a suburb of Brisbane’s metropolitan area) in Queensland, Australia.

When the pilot encountered “unforecast icing conditions and low visibility due to overcast,” the plane was travelling at 10,000 feet. The pilot began using the plane’s supplemental oxygen system intermittently after reaching 11,000 feet, according to the report.

When flying unpressurized aircraft, such as the Caravan, over 10,000 feet, pilots are required to utilize supplemental oxygen continuously, according to the research.

According to the current ATSB inquiry, air traffic control (ATC) was unable to reach the pilot when the plane was roughly 33 miles north of Brisbane’s Sunshine Coast Airport.

ATC requested pilots in surrounding aircraft to assist in contacting the Caravan pilot, who was “seen to overfly Redcliffe and track towards Brisbane,” according to the report.

According to the investigation, another aircraft attempted to approach the Caravan in an attempt to activate the traffic alarm and collision system, but the pilot did not respond.

The pilot awoke at 5:35 p.m. local time after 40 minutes without contact, and ATC connections were reestablished when the jet was “about 111 kilometers [about 69 miles]south-southeast of the intended destination,” according to the report.

The jet was directed to Gold Coast Airport, where it safely landed shortly after 6 p.m. This is a condensed version of the information.


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