A pilot has been fired after allegedly falling asleep while in charge of manning an international flight heading from New York to Rome as his co-pilot took his designated sleeping break, according to reports. Italian newspaper reports that the flight in April was unmanned for 10 minutes because the pilot intended to be awake while the pilot fell asleep, and the pilot did not allow him to fall asleep. La Repubblica reported.
Flight AZ609, which took off on April 30 on Italy’s new state-run air carrier, ITA, was flying 38,000-feet over France when the pilot meant to be awake fell asleep, according to ABC 7.
According to reports, air traffic controllers said that they lost contact with their plane for approximately 10 minutes.
Air Traffic Control feared of a terror incident had occurred and as they prepared fighter jets to intercept the plane, the pilots responded to their calls, ABC 7 reported.
ITA Airways stated that the captain claimed that the radios had stopped working. However, investigators discovered the truth. “strong inconsistencies between the statements made by the captain and the outcome of the internal investigation.”
Pilot denied that he was asleep.
The Italian airline said the captain’s behavior “was not consistent with the rules dictated by the company.”
The plane landed safely in Rome and did not lose altitude or go off its intended route at any point in time, flight data obtained by The Independent showed.
ITA flew for the first time after replacing Alitalia’s long-standing Italian national airline Alitalia. This was in October 2021. Alitalia, which had been plagued by financial problems in recent years was forced to close its doors last year.