Mi dispiace! An extended silence from the flight deck onboard an ITA Airways Airbus A330 flight to Rome suggests that both on-duty pilots took a little pisolino onboard.
On-Duty ITA Airways Pilots Fall Asleep In Cockpit During New York – Rome Flight
The incident occurred on May 1, 2022 onboard ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia, flight AZ605, operating from New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO). The flight was operated by an A330-200 jet, with the registration EI-EJP.
While mostly uneventful, a strange period of silence in the cockpit occurred for roughly 10 minutes toward the end of the flight, as the plane flew at 38,000 feet over France. Repeated calls from Marseille control went unanswered, with Italian media reporting both the captain and first officer were fast asleep.
Airways Magazine reports the first officer was approved to sleep under a procedure known as “controlled rest” (defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] as a “‘short sleep opportunity’ that serves as a mitigation strategy in case of unexpected fatigue during flight.”). However, the captain was not approved to sleep.
As French authorities prepared to dispatch a pair of fighter jets to intercept the A330 and ensure there was no trouble onboard, the pilots woke up. The aircraft proceeded without further incident to Rome and safely landed at Rome – Fiumicino International Airport.
Italian media further reports that the captain was removed from service after the incident, but has maintained his innocence, denying that he took a nap and blaming the problem on the radio communication system.
It is worth noting that the aircraft was in auto-pilot during the flight crew’s snooze and there was likely no imminent danger posed to passengers. Even so, such action is highly unacceptable, which helps to explain why the captain faces disciplinary action. Hopefully it was a radio issue and not actually unauthorized sleep, though I have my doubts…
image: ITA Airways
Just ask the pilots at the now defunct Northwest Airlines!
I think I would wait for the result of an investigation before jumping to conclusions and stating that both flight deck crew were asleep. Maybe they were or maybe they were not
That’s fair enough, but Italian media has definitively reported both were asleep and it does seems highly suspicious at that most difficult part of the flight (in terms of fatigue) the radio suddenly went silent after working just fine before or after.
Before AND after.
Or maybe they were because the captain is human and a flight on autopilot is boring as hell and a protocol that allows one of 2 redundant people in the cockpit to be asleep is a flawed one.
You are right Chris. People blame the Captain instead of pointing out the crazy legislation made by the authority.
“The plane was on autopilot and no one was in danger.” WELL NO. Auto pilot or not, That was dangerous!
Sure, it posed danger but not imminent danger.
“It is worth noting that the aircraft was in auto-pilot during the flight crew’s snooze and there was likely no danger posed to passengers.“
Strongly disagree. The plane’s autopilot could have malfunctioned at any second and everyone could have been in serious danger. This is much worse than falling asleep while your Tesla is in “autopilot.”
Typical Italians (lazy). Same reason I’ll never fly a Spanish or Portuguese carrier.
That’s just old fashioned racism
Yup. So what, I call em as I see em.
The truth is more important than name calling. I’m as pro White as they come, however, that does not mean we should ignore tendencies specific ethnicities have whether it is genetic or cultural (learned).
The French are known to be arrogant. The recent incident where both pilots put in opposite inputs on a 777 has been discussed. AF447 comes to mind as a situation where pilots performed illogically and where arrogance probably played a role.
Italians (especially southern Italians) are known to be lazy and prideful. We all know the issues Al Italia had. I’ve flown on Al Italia and have seen the madness that was the boarding process at FCO. Laziness and arrogance can get people killed in Aviation.
Bryan, Italians are not a race. So it’s not racist. Prejudice? Maybe. Truth? Absolutely.
I agree, all lazy buggers. It simply is.
I’m Italian and sadly, you’re 100% correct
You need urgently a good Doctor.
That’s happened before.
Around 2008 or 2009, a Northwest Airlines A320 SAN-MSP overflew MSP. The pilots gave an excuse that they were in a heated discussion over airline policy, but that is likely bogus. Around that time a Go Airlines flight within Hawaii overshot the airport by about 30 miles due to napping. Some years earlier than that, a Western Airlines jet overflew LAX and flew over the Pacific before the pilots woke up and landed at LAX.
A pilot’s job must be utter boredom. Not unlike war, mostly boredom interspersed with moments of action.
Especially intercontinental flights at night. Sounds like torture.
You never hear of this happening in a US-based airline, which has policies such as scheduling a 3rd pilot to relieve a napping pilot. Foreign airlines have such questionable safety practices, no amount of fancy business class seating will make me feel safer if this is how they operate.
I just retired last week. I flew similar Trans-Atlantic flights for a major US carrier. Our NY-Rome flights are ALWAYS staffed with 3 pilots. A Captain and two Captain rated (type rated) First Officers. I believe ICAO rules allow such a two pilot crew for nine hours or less flight time. But I would not personally travel on such a flight. These flights are all at night and/or backside of the clock. Two pilots = not safe IMHO.
My other question is: was this aircraft equiped with and did ITA have CPDLC available? A quick SELCAL from ATC or ITA dispatch would alert the crew that they needed to communicate, either by voice or CPDLC.
Good info. I’m flying ITA from MIA to Rome in November which is scheduled for 9.5 hours. Then the return is scheduled for like 11+
Just so I understand what is being said here– are you saying that flights with 2 pilots are substantially less safe because we can’t reasonably expect 2 pilots to stay awake for the duration of these flights. If there are 3 pilots, we can reasonably expect that at least one will be awake at any given time, possibly because they can rotate sleeping during the flight?
Please provide the studies and reports that definitively prove that three pilots rotating duties on a flight of nine hours is “safer.” I am not talking Union talking points. But actual studies. I can certainly see this on 12 hour+ but a routine nine hour flight to Europe from the U.S.?