Updated March 11th, 2024 at 15:48 IST

Airliner Drifts Off Course as Both Pilots Nod Off Midflight

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with fatigue in the aviation industry.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Representative image. | Image:Shutterstock

Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee has revealed a concerning incident involving an airliner veering off course after both pilots allegedly fell asleep in the cockpit during a flight with 159 passengers onboard.

According to a report from the New York Post, the incident occurred on Batik Air flight BTK6723 on January 25, with the aircraft deviating from its intended flight path for approximately 28 minutes while en route from South East Sulawesi to Jakarta.


What exactly happened? 

The investigation found that the 32-year-old captain, a sleep-deprived new father of twins, had sought permission from his 28-year-old co-pilot to take a rest after reaching cruising altitude. With approval granted, the captain dozed off for an hour before briefly waking up to offer to switch positions with his deputy, who declined the offer.


However, after declining the offer, the deputy went to sleep as well. During this period, both pilots were reportedly asleep, leading to the aircraft drifting off course. Jakarta's air control center made multiple attempts to contact the pilots, but received no response. Fortunately, the captain woke up after 28 minutes and corrected the plane's path, successfully landing it at Jakarta without any injuries to passengers or crew.

Both pilots had passed health checks 

The first officer explained to officials that he had been struggling to get enough sleep while caring for his one-month-old twins. Both pilots had passed health checks and alcohol tests before the flight.

In response to the incident, Batik Air has temporarily suspended the pilots, and Indonesia's Transport Ministry has launched an investigation to determine the cause and prevent similar occurrences in the future.


The incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers associated with fatigue in the aviation industry. Regulators are urged to address the issue of midair napping, with a survey revealing that a significant portion of pilots have admitted to falling asleep at least once while flying a plane.


Published March 11th, 2024 at 15:48 IST