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AIR SCARE: Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 pilots fall asleep mid-air, overshoot runway

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PILOTS on a passenger plane fell asleep mid-flight – and couldn’t be woken by air traffic controllers before landing.

But Ethiopian Airlines flight ET343, travelling from Khartoum in Sudan to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on August 15, miraculously landed without any injuries.

The pilots fell asleep while the plane was on autopilot mode.

Two pilots fell asleep at 37,000ft (11,000m), missing an airport runway before waking to safely land the plane, an aviation publication says.

Air traffic tried to contact them after they overshot the point of descent into Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa airport.

The pilots eventually woke up and landed the plane on its second approach, the Aviation Herald said.

The Ethiopian Airlines crew have been put on leave pending investigation, state-run news outlet Fana reported.

Monday’s passenger flight took off from Sudan’s Khartoum airport.

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The Boeing 737, with a 154-seat capacity, normally takes less than two hours on its route between the neighbouring countries.

Reactions to sleeping on the job ranged from sympathy with the pilots’ work schedule to shock that they fell asleep on the job.

“I wouldn’t cast blame on the Ethiopian crew specifically here – this is something that could happen to ANY crew in the world and it probably DID happen… The blame lies on the corporation and the regulators,” read one comment on the Aviation Herald website.

Another user suggested that there was only one solution: “Termination. End of story. Full stop.”

Others saw the funny side of the story, comment on Twitter, “Sleeping on the job taken to new heights!”

SEE ALSO:  Chad’s military ruler, Mahamat Deby wins presidential poll

An aviation analyst called the incident “deeply concerning” on Twitter.

“Pilot fatigue is nothing new, and continues to pose one of the most significant threats to air safety – internationally,” tweeted aviation analyst, Alex Macheras.

The BBC has contacted Ethiopian Airlines for comment.

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In April, a similar incident happened on a flight from New York to Rome.

Some 250 passengers were on board the plane at the time, ABC7Eyewitness News reports.

According to an investigation, both pilots of the ITA Airways flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport were sleeping during the journey.

They were asleep as the Airbus 330 flew over France, cruising at 38,000ft.

One of the pilots was sleeping during his break – but the captain had also fallen asleep, it was found.

Air traffic controllers reportedly lost contact with the plane for around 10 minutes – and feared there had been a terrorist incident onboard.

But as officials prepared to scramble fighter jets, the pilots eventually responded to air traffic control.

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Chad’s military ruler, Mahamat Deby wins presidential poll

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Chad’s military ruler, Mahamat Deby wins presidential poll


Chad’s military ruler Mahamat Déby has been declared the official winner of the presidential elections, legitimising his grip on power.

Gen Déby won 61.3% of the vote, according to the state’s election body, citing provisional results, while his closest rival, Prime Minister Succes Masra, won 18.53%.

Mr Masra had earlier declared that he had won a “resounding victory” in the first round of voting, and that victory had been stolen “from the people”.

Gen Déby, 40, was installed as Chad’s leader by the military after his father, Idriss Déby Itno, was killed during a battle with rebel forces in April 2021.

His victory means that the Déby family’s 34-year-rule will continue.

The results of Monday’s election were announced two weeks earlier than expected.

They are due to be confirmed by the constitutional council.

Just before the election results were announced, Prime Minister Masra claimed victory in a live broadcast on Facebook, and called on his supporters and security forces to oppose what he said was an attempt by Gen Déby to “steal the victory from the people”.

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“A small number of individuals believe they can make people believe that the election was won by the same system that has been ruling Chad for decades,” he said.

“To all Chadians who voted for change, who voted for me, I say: mobilise. Do it calmly, with a spirit of peace,” he added.

Chad becomes the first of the countries where the military seized power in West and Central Africa in recent years to hold elections and restore civilian rule.

SEE ALSO:  Pastor survives attempt to assassinate during sermon

But critics say with the election of Gen Déby, little has changed.

Monday’s voting was mostly peaceful but at least one voter was killed, according to local media.

There had also been some opposition reports of irregularities on polling day.

Ten politicians who had been hoping to run were excluded by the constitutional council because of “irregularities”, which some say was politically motivated.

Another potential opponent, and a cousin of Gen Déby, Yaya Dillo, was killed by security forces in February while allegedly leading an attack on the National Security Agency in the capital, N’Djamena.

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Activists had called for a boycott of the election.

Many are still in exile following a deadly crackdown on opponents following protests in October 2022.

The oil-exporting country of nearly 18 million people has not had a free-and-fair transfer of power since independence from France in 1960.

Idriss Déby overthrew Hissène Habré in 1990 and remained in charge for the following three decades until his battlefield death in April 2021 at the age of 68.

Gen Déby initially pledged to stay as interim leader for just 18 months, a period that was later extended. He also said that he would not run for president. (BBC)

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Pastor survives attempt to assassinate during sermon

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Pastor survives attempt to assassinate during sermon


A Pennsylvania pastor survived a shooting in the middle of his Sunday sermon when the attacker’s gun jammed, giving congregants’ time to subdue him.

Footage of the attack shows Pastor Glenn Germany diving behind his lectern after a man approaches; raises his arm and aims a gun at Mr Germany.

Police identified the gunman as 26-year-old Bernard Polite.

After Mr Polite’s arrest, police found another man fatally shot at his North Braddock home.

The victim was identified as Derek Polite, 56. Police have not yet commented on Bernard Polite’s relationship with him. Detectives from the Allegheny County Police Department’s homicide unit are now handling the investigation. No charges have been filed in the shooting of the Derek Polite at this point.

The Reverend Glenn Germany, pastor at Jesus’ Dwelling Place Church in North Braddock, a Pittsburgh suburb, told the BBC’s US partner CBS News he believed God had saved him from the attack.

“I’m so grateful,” he said. “You know, he shot. You can hear the gun click.”

Mr Germany said he saw Mr Polite walk in and smile at him, but assumed he was coming to speak with another member of the church.

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“But instead he came right here where I’m standing… and that’s where he just pulled out the gun out,” he said. “I’m looking right down the barrel of the gun.”

d to discharge, church Deacon Clarence McCallister ran up the centre aisle and tackled him. While Mr Polite was being restrained, Mr Germany approached and took the gun.

Once police arrived, Mr Germany said Mr Polite spoke to him and apologised.

SEE ALSO:  Veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason who broke news of the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998 dies aged 67

Mr Polite appeared to suffer from mental illness, Mr Germany said, and told him he heard voices. “The voices were in his head and said ‘go shoot the pastor.’”

Mr Polite is facing multiple charges, including attempted homicide. He was denied bail and is being detained at a jail in Pittsburgh ahead of a preliminary hearing next week.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by WTAE, Mr Polite told police that he tried to shoot Mr Germany because “God told him to do it” and he was hoping to go to jail to clear his mind. (BBC)

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School leaders warn of ‘full-blown’ special needs crisis in England

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School leaders warn of ‘full-blown’ special needs crisis in England

Survey by NAHT union finds funding shortages mean pupils are losing out on vital support



Shortages and funding cuts are causing a “full-blown crisis” in special needs education for children and young people in England, according to school leaders who say they are struggling to give pupils the support they require.

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the school leaders’ union the NAHT, accused the government of treating schools as a “sideline” compared with headline-grabbing issues such as immigration.

“This is a full-blown crisis and bad news for children, families, schools and local authorities. Ahead of the general election, it is incumbent upon all political parties to pledge the system-wide investment needed to tackle this crisis head on,” Whiteman said.

Leaders of both mainstream and special schools told the NAHT they were being forced to reduce the number of teaching assistants or hours worked because of financial pressures, cutting vital individual support for pupils with special education needs and disabilities (Send).

The NAHT’s survey of 1,000 school leaders found that 78% said they had cut back on support staff such as teaching assistants within the last three years, and 84% said they also expected to do so within the next three years.

Some leaders said they feared funding shortages meant they would be unable to keep children and staff safe, while others said they were unable to pay for speech and language therapy, mental health support or specialist training.

Ian Kendal, the executive headteacher of Our Lady of Fatima trust in Essex, said the funding was insufficient and that it was “astonishing” per pupil Send funding had not increased for more than a decade. This, he said put huge pressure on dwindling school budgets.

SEE ALSO:  Chad’s military ruler, Mahamat Deby wins presidential poll

“There just isn’t capacity within special schools in our area, meaning we are supporting even more pupils with complex needs within our mainstream settings.

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“We believe in inclusion and are currently doing our best with the limited funds, but, put simply, it is not good enough for the children with the most complex needs – they deserve so much more than we can give them.

“It should never have come to this, and we need the government to urgently put more funding into the system to ensure all children’s needs are met, especially the most vulnerable.”

Funding for pupils in special schools has been frozen at £10,000 per pupil since 2013, with its value being steeply eroded in recent years by high inflation.

The school leaders’ complaints come as the number of pupils with identified Send, including those with education, health and care plans (EHCPs), has ballooned.

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary for England, has previously acknowledged the extent of the crisis, saying earlier this year: “All too often I hear from parents with children who have special educational needs having to fight to get the right support.”

The Department for Education says the government is tackling the issue, with high needs funding for children and young people increasing above £10.5bn in 2024-25.

School children in a classroom
Special educational needs in English schools in ‘crisis’, minister admits

The government is also allocating £850m for councils to eventually create 60,000 new places in mainstream and special schools.

But Louise Gittins, the chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “Councils’ high needs deficits currently stand at an estimated £1.9bn, rising to £3.6bn by 2025 with no intervention. We urge the government to write off these deficits.”

SEE ALSO:  Veteran BBC journalist Stephen Grimason who broke news of the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998 dies aged 67

Whiteman told the NAHT’s annual conference on Friday that the government’s neglect of schools had been “pernicious”.

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“For the best part of 15 years now, schools have been treated as though they’re a sideline, a niche portfolio to be considered once all populist talk on immigration, polarised positions on trans rights, and removing the right to protest have been exhausted,” Whiteman said.

“If political parties think the electorate haven’t noticed, or simply don’t care, I strongly suspect they’re all going to have a nasty shock during the election campaign.” (The Guardian)

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