A Pakistan International Airlines flight that was bound to London with 300 passengers on board flew even when the pilot went to sleep.
The plane was flown by trainee pilot for more than two hours, while the captain slept in the first class cabin.
Amir Akhtar Hashmi, a senior pilot for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), was supposed to train his first officer, Ali Hassan Yazdani, during the flight. The young trainee was joined in the cockpit by another flight officer, Mohammad Asad Ali.
Shortly after flight PK-785 departed from Islamabad, Hashmi, a former president of Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), handed over the controls to Yazdani and left the cockpit for the first-class cabin.
The London-bound flight was carrying over 305 people, including 293 passengers in economy class and 12 in first class.
One of the passengers spotted the uniformed pilot sleeping peacefully in the flat bed seat. Fearing that a sleeping captain was a danger to flight safety, the passenger raised the issue with a senior flight attendant, who had to mention it in her report.
“Passenger (Seat 1D) complained that while the captain was sleeping in the business class cabin, [the passenger did not] feel safe. It had been explained that two other crew members were in the cockpit, but he said that he would follow the matter and write down a complaint card as well,” said the flight report.
Neither co-pilot reported the incident to management in order to protect Hashmi from an inquiry.
PIA, Pakistan’s flag carrier airline, was also reluctant to look into the matter, but eventually caved in to pressure from superior authorities. Hashmi was taken off flight duty as a result, according to the airline’s spokesperson, Danyal Gilani.