Pilot abandons cockpit, is found sleeping in business class

Pakistan International Airlines pilot discovered taking 2.5 hour nap in passenger's section during Islamabad-London flight.

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David Rosenberg,

Airplane (illustrative)
Airplane (illustrative)

Pakistan International Airlines suspended a senior pilot after a passenger discovered him sleeping mid-flight in a seat in the business class section.

Captain Amir Akhtar Hashmi reportedly abandoned the cockpit and took a two-and-a-half hour rest in the middle of a flight from Islamabad to London on April 26th, leaving control of flight PK785 and the fate of all 305 passengers aboard to a trainee, Ali Hassan Yazdani.

Hashmi, who is also employed by the airline as a flight instructor, was supposed to be present with Yazdani while the aircraft was under Yazdani’s control.

A passenger later discovered Hashmi asleep in a business class seat and reported him to a member of the flight crew.

According to The Times of India, Hashmi is a senior pilot and a former president of a pilots’ union, the Pakistan Air Lines Pilots Association. Pakistan International Airlines initially balked at taking punitive action against Hashmi.

Now, however, Pakistan International Airlines reports that Hashmi has been removed from active duty, pending the outcome of a formal investigation.

Photos of the sleeping pilot quickly circulated on social media outlets, further harming PIA’s public image after a rash of corruption scandals, including CEO Bernd Hildenbrand, suspended and now facing bribery charges.