The pilot claimed the 10-minute loss of communications was due to equipment failure, but an internal airline investigation cast doubt on that
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A captain working for one of Italy’s main airlines has been fired after he allegedly fell asleep at the controls of a plane, sparking a terror alert from French authorities.
Traffic controllers were unable to communicate with the plane for ten minutes, leading to French officials warning Italy that a terrorist hijacking may be underway.
An internal investigation by operator ITA Airways found “inconsistencies” in the captain’s story, as he claimed there were malfunctions in the equipment.
The co-pilot, as procedure permitted, had taken a nap for a “controlled break,” but the captain is said to be awake and reachable, he reported telegraph.
As a result, both pilots of ITA Airways passenger flight AZ609 from New York to Rome were asleep at the controls of the Airbus 330 on April 30.
Taking to Twitter, Michele Anzaldi, a centre-left MP, called for an official apology from the state airline, saying: “What happened on the ITA flight from New York where both pilots fell asleep is very serious.
“The company has a duty to guarantee that this will never happen again and must apologize to the passengers.”
A spokesman for the airline assured concerned customers that the flight was on autopilot, flew at normal speed exactly as expected and the safety of passengers was never compromised.
In a statement to The Telegraph, ITA said an investigation found the captain acted “improperly” both during the flight and after landing.
Technicians tested all systems as part of the internal investigation and found no problems, refuting the captain’s claim that the power outage was due to problems with the communications system.
The airline emphasized “clearly and rigorously” that the safety of the flight is always guaranteed
The snafoo came to light after Marseille traffic controllers made repeated attempts to contact the plane, but to no avail.
They had tried several times in vain to inform the pilots of their position.
Fearing a possible terrorist attack, French aviation authorities contacted their counterparts in Rome at 5:21 am, who in turn contacted the airline.
Two fighter jets even prepared to intercept the plane before the pilots finally responded.
The plane landed at its destination in Rome 20 minutes before the scheduled arrival time.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/pilots-who-fell-asleep-flying-27097746 Pilots who 'fell asleep' while flying sparked fears of terrorist hijacking - World News