The incident took place aboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa.
Data obtained by the website indicates that the plane was crossing on autopilot at 37,000 feet when it failed to descend into Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, its planned destination, on Aug. 15.
Air traffic control apparently could not reach the crew despite several attempts at contact. However, an alarm went off when the aircraft overran the runway and continued on its route.
The aircraft then began to descend and landed safely about 25 minutes later.
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data shows the aircraft flying over the runway before starting to descend and maneuver for another approach.
“We have received a report that Ethiopian flight number ET343 temporarily lost communication with Addis Ababa air traffic control on August 15, 2022 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa,” said an Ethiopian Airlines statement on Friday.
“The flight later landed safely after communications were restored. The crew members involved have been removed from the operation pending further investigation.
“Based on the outcome of the investigation, appropriate corrective action will be taken. Safety is and will remain our number one priority,” the statement said.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras has since taken to Twitter to express his shock at the “very worrying incident”, which he suggests may be the result of pilot exhaustion.
“Pilot fatigue is nothing new and continues to pose one of the major threats to air safety – internationally,” he tweeted on Thursday.
“Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’ greatest security threat,” the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, or SWAPA, said in a letter to airlines in April.
According to the letter, rising demand for air travel as the industry begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and cancellation chaos caused by severe weather were among the reasons for the increase in pilot exhaustion.
In May, the Italian newspaper Repubblica reported that an ITA pilot had been fired after he “fell asleep” on a flight between New York and Rome.
The copilot would take an “authorized rest” at the time, causing the Airbus A330 to lose communication with air traffic control for ten minutes, the report said.