/Student pilot fell unconscious for 40 minutes mid-flight over Adelaide

Student pilot fell unconscious for 40 minutes mid-flight over Adelaide

Updated

May 10, 2019 08:16:33

An Adelaide flight school will require its students to log the times they last ate and slept before taking to the air, after a student pilot fell unconscious while flying over the city’s controlled airspace.

Key points:

  • A flight entered Adelaide’s controlled airspace without clearance on March 9
  • A safety report said the student pilot had been unwell and fell unconscious
  • The flight school declined to comment but has committed to safety improvements

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its report into the “serious incident”, which happened in March and involved an aircraft from flight school Flight Training Adelaide.

The pilot, who had not eaten breakfast, fell unconscious about 40 minutes into the flight and remained unconscious for another 40 minutes.

“The pilot began to feel a headache in his forehead and engaged the autopilot,” the ATSB said.

“Prior to the flight he had suffered from a restless night of sleep and was recovering from a mild cold.”

Flight YTR left Port Augusta for Adelaide’s Parafield Airport on the morning of March 9.

The Diamond DA40 aircraft entered Adelaide’s controlled airspace without clearance about 11:00am.

The route, logged by FlightAware, extended south across the Gulf St Vincent before heading north, with the plane eventually landing at Parafield Airport.

The report does not make it clear if the man fainted or fell asleep, but said the pilot “infringed” Adelaide Airport’s airspace.

“Air traffic control (ATC) attempted to contact the pilot numerous times unsuccessfully,” the report stated.

“The crew of a Diamond DA42, which was operating in the area, offered their assistance to ATC in identifying and establishing contact with the aircraft.

“At about 11:15am, the crew made visual contact with the DA40 and reported the pilot had regained consciousness.

“At this point, the aircraft was over water.

“Radio contact was subsequently established and ATC assisted the pilot in returning the aircraft to Parafield whilst under escort by the DA42.”

Pilot sick and didn’t eat breakfast

Another Adelaide-based pilot, who did not wish to be named, told the ABC the incident “probably ended up grounding some jets at Adelaide”.

“He awoke somewhere over the ocean,” the pilot said.

Airservices Australia confirmed nearby aircraft were cleared from an area 50 kilometres north of Adelaide as a precaution.

Flight Training Adelaide declined to comment on the incident to the ABC.

The ATSB report said the pilot “did not consume any breakfast” before leaving Parafield for Port Augusta, where the pilot stopped over before flying back.

“During the flight from Parafield to Port Augusta, the pilot only consumed a bottle of Gatorade, some water and a chocolate bar during the stopover in Port Augusta.”

Following the incident Flight Training Adelaide told the ATSB it would implement several “safety actions”, including requiring students to log their “hours of sleep in the previous 24 and 48 hours [and] the time of when their last meal was consumed and the type of meal”.

The training school also committed to providing better guidance to students “regarding sleep patterns” and conduct a safety briefing “with more emphasis on fatigue management”.

Another pilot declared he was bored

In February, an Adelaide pilot took workplace venting to new heights, tracing the words “I’m bored” during a flight.

The Diamond Star plane, also operated by Flight Training Adelaide, spent a little over three hours in the air to draw the letters over South Australia.

The message was visible to aviation followers on flight tracking programs and websites.

It is believed the pilot, who was working out of Parafield Airport, was “running in” a new engine.

Topics:

air-and-space,

accidents,

air-transport,

food-safety,

sleep,

adult-education,

adelaide-5000,

sa,

parafield-5106,

port-augusta-5700

First posted

May 10, 2019 08:14:06