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Airline pilot caught dozing in flight
Updated: 2004-05-01 09:04

A pilot for Japan's All Nippon Airways fell asleep at the controls for several minutes while on a domestic flight and had to be awakened by a government inspector who was traveling in the cockpit.

A spokesman for the airline said on Friday that the 50-year-old pilot, whose name was not released, dozed off while flying on March 23 from Tokyo's Haneda airport to the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, a trip that takes about an hour.

An official from the Transport Ministry, who was in the cockpit for a routine inspection, woke the pilot after he fell asleep as the plane was cruising at 12,000 meters (36,000 feet), but he dozed off again and had to be awakened a second time.

"He was asleep for two or three minutes," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said there was no danger to passengers since the plane was on auto-pilot and the co-pilot was also present. The pilot, who has been suspended, is undergoing medical tests.

Last year, a Japanese bullet train driver fell asleep at the controls while his train was traveling at 270 km (168 miles) an hour. He was found to suffer from sleep apnea, in which a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep, causing daytime drowsiness.

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