It’s probably a traveler’s worst nightmare…you’re flying along 38 thousand feet above the ground, and both pilots fall asleep. That was the nightmare 250 passengers lived through on a flight from New York to Rome. The plane was put on auto pilot, and the control tower became concerned when controllers were unable to get a response from either of the two pilots on board.
It was common for one of the two pilots to take a nap while the other is vigilant and watching the plane’s attitude, systems and surroundings, but the co-pilot also nodded off. Two fighters were dispatched from a nearby Air Force Base but finally one of the pilots woke up and dispelled fears that the plane had been hijacked.
The plane’s pilot in command said the radios were not operating properly, but investigators said that was a lie. In spite of other pilots saying the problem was a result of the crew being fatigued from overwork caused by staff shortages, the Captain of the flight was fired when the plane landed.