Pilot asleep at controls misses his destination
A commercial pilot is under investigation after falling asleep in the cockpit of a freight plane and overflying his Australian island destination by 46km.
The pilot, who has not been identified, was the only person aboard the twin-propeller Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftain and was flying on autopilot during the early morning flight on November 8 from Devonport on Tasmania 250km north west to King Island in Bass Strait, said his employer Vortex Air.
The pilot "unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft", the Melbourne-based airline said. The pilot landed safely on King Island, the company said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority are investigating the incident and the company's management of pilot fatigue.
Vortex Air said the 6.20am flight had been the first on the pilot's first day back at work after taking leave.
'The Australian' newspaper said the pilot reported for duty despite having had little or no sleep due to a personal crisis.