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F-16s scrambled after Delta flight goes silent

After a hard day of browsing the Internet and occasionally typing something I am sometimes so tired I fall asleep while driving home parked on I-285.

This F-16 flown by a NATO pilot in Estonia is probably similar to the ones used by Greece and should make you wonder how many countries we sell advanced weapons systems to. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Being immobile in rush hour traffic I am probably not a hazard.

A sleeping jumbo jet pilot? Well that could be a disaster.

Reports allege Delta pilots  feel asleep while flying from Germany to Kuwait, but a spokesperson for the Atlanta-based airline denied it.

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Just hours after Egyptair flight MS 804 crashed into the Mediterranean and killed 66 people, Greece scrambled F-16 fighter jets to intercept Delta flight 8957 after it entered Greek airspace and did not identify itself, reports the Mirror, a British tabloid.

"This occurred during a handoff between air traffic control agencies and communications were expeditiously reestablished," said a Delta spokesperson in the Daily Star , another British tabloid. "At no point did the Boeing 767-400ER leave its planned route of flight."

According to reports the passenger jet first appeared on Greek radar on May 19 at 7:10 p.m. but failed to respond to "frantic calls" from aviation officials. Fighter jets were dispatched at 7:28 p.m. and intercepted the Delta plane seven miles from the popular holiday island of Santorini.

Aviation News does not provide its sources but writes  "The F-16 pilots tried to see what was happening inside the plane, reporting that the Delta pilots appeared to be in their seats but were possibly asleep. One of the fighter jets even flew in front of the Boeing passenger plane and used light signals in a desperate attempt to rouse them, but there was still no response.

"It was only when shocked passengers alerted flight attendants to the fighter jets that surrounded the plane, that the pilots were roused as the crew banged on the cockpit door. They then contacted Greek authorities. By then, it had been nearly an hour without any contact."

Aviation News says a 2013 survey of UK airline pilots found that more than half have fallen asleep in the cockpit and a third have woken up to find their co-pilot asleep.

That's probably not as dangerous as it sounds because commercial jets often fly on "autopilot." And if I had to pick between trusting an American company or a bankrupt European nation known for sloth I guess I would side with Delta.

Here's some free vocational advice: When doing nothing productive try to look busy. At the very least, try to stay awake.





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