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