Pilot and co-pilot 'fall asleep for nearly half an hour on passenger flight to Indonesia'

File photo of a Batik Air flight (AFP via Getty Images)
File photo of a Batik Air flight (AFP via Getty Images)

Two pilots fell asleep for almost 30 minutes while passengers were on-board during a flight to Indonesia, an investigation has found.

The Batik Air flight en-route to Jakarta drifted off its designated flight path during the incident on January 25, local media reported.

The pilot and co-pilot were reportedly asleep in the cockpit for 28 minutes, according to a preliminary report by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT).

The Airbus A320’s 153 passengers and four flight attendants were unharmed during the flight lasting two hours and 35 minutes from South East Sulawesi.

The transport ministry said it “strongly reprimands” the airline over the incident, said the air transport director general, Maria Kristi Endah Murni.

“We will carry out an investigation and review of the night flight operation in Indonesia related with fatigue risk management for Batik Air and all flight operators,” Ms Kristi said.

In a statement reported by the AFP news agency, Batik Air on Saturday that it “operates with adequate rest policy” and that it was “committed to implement all safety recommendations”.

The pilots involved are said to have been temporarily suspended.

One of the pilots had not rested properly before the flight, according to the report, and so asked his co-pilot if he could sleep for a while.

However, the co-pilot, who took over control of the plane, also accidentally fell asleep, the report stated.

It said the co-pilot was tired because he had one-month-old twin babies at home.

The pilot then woke up and realised what was amiss, with air traffic control contacting the aircraft over the deviation from its scheduled flight path.

The two pilots were not identified in the report.