A pilot working for one of Italy’s major airlines has been fired for allegedly “falling asleep” in control of a plane, prompting a terrorist warning from French authorities.
According to Daily Star, Traffic controllers were unable to contact the plane for about 10 minutes, after which French officials prepared two warplanes for surveillance. Moreover, French authorities have warned Italian officials that terrorist kidnappings are ongoing.
The captain was in charge of the ITA Airlines AZ609 passenger flight from New York to Rome. At first, the pilot claimed that there was something wrong with the equipment that prevented him from communicating with the traffic controllers. However, after an internal investigation, ITA Airways found “inconsistencies” in the captain’s story.
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According to media outlets, the co-pilot was asleep for a “controlled test” protocol while on the Airbus 330 autopilot. This has led to communication blackouts which have raised concerns from ground control.
Italian authorities contacted the central command of ITA Airways, which tried to communicate with the pilots first via satellite cell phones and then via messages on ACARS – a digital data link system for sending messages between aircraft and ground stations. Continuous communication attempts failed for only 10 minutes, during which time the pilots responded.
Following the incident, Michel Anzaldi, a center-left Italian lawmaker, called for a formal apology from the state-owned carrier. Taking away TwitterMr Anzaldi described the incident as “very serious” and said the company had a responsibility to guarantee it would never happen again. Airlines need to “apologize to passengers,” he added.
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Note that the pilot has been fired since the incident. The flight was in autopilot, flying at normal speed and altitude and never deviated from its route. Passenger safety has never been compromised, an airline spokesman told The K. Telegraph. In a statement, the airline stressed that flight safety was always guaranteed, thanks to the advanced technology on board.