The pilot's suspension started a debate.
Sleeping when you are on the plane is normal for passengers, but for pilots, it’s a whole different story. A China Airlines pilot is said to have almost 20 years of flying experience but was seen taking a nap on duty.
While it was unclear when the incident happened, and on what flight the pilot had slept on, China Airlines had verified that he had slept mid-flight as he was in charge of a Boeing 747. Even though the passengers’ lives were never in danger even when the pilot was asleep, sleeping on the job was still frowned upon especially because it was just a short-haul flight.
The pilot on the viral video is Weng Jiaqi and he is a senior officer for China Airlines, which is the national carrier of Taiwan. Aside from taking charge of short-haul flights to cities including Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Okinawa, and Seoul, Jiaqi also supervises the training of would-be pilots.
However, he was suspended after a video, shot by his co-pilot, showed him taking a nap mid-flight.
Since the co-pilot was obviously awake, the airplane was never in danger during the flight. The co-pilot may have just taken a video of the senior pilot for fun.
But because the co-pilot posted this on social media, both of them were suspended for the “improper behavior.” The senior pilot was suspended for sleeping mid-flight while the co-pilot also received punishment for not waking him up.
The video, once circulated on social media, started a debate on how commercial pilots fall asleep while flying. While many questioned the safety regulations, there were also others who sympathized with the pilot saying he was seen to be clearly fatigued.
Commercial pilots in China recently went on a seven-day strike over long working hours. The latest video came only after a few days after the strike was called off and could lead to a fresh debate.
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