Boeing 747 Pilot Takes a Nap in Cockpit Mid-Flight, the Co-Pilot Rats Him Out and Gets Disciplined

A pilot of a China Airlines Boeing 747 is filmed – by another pilot int he cockpit – taking a nap during a flight. The SkyTeam member airline and Delta partner has disciplined the sleeping pilot along with the co-pilot whose video ratted him out.

The Taiwan-based carrier’s pilot can be seen “slumping his head forward with his eyes closed while the aircraft was mid-flight.” And if anyone should have known better, this 20 year veteran is the carrier’s most senior 747 captain and also an instructor at the airline’s flight training center.

Facing video of his inflight nap he turned himself in and has received “adequate punishment” according to a statement from China Airlines.

However discipline didn’t end there. The co-pilot that took the video has been reprimanded, too, for filming the incident rather than waking up the pilot.

To be clear this was not what’s known as a ‘controlled rest’ where the pilot would have been back from the 747’s controls.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Pilots often sleep in the cockpit. It’s good for them and for safety especially on long haul flights with full knowldege of the other pilot. Disclosure: I was a pilot. Disclosure: I would never fly with that co-pilot again and doubt if anyone else will either.

  2. The co-pilot is an ***hole. They need to get rid of him. In the cockpit you work as a team and help each other. Apparently the co-pilot was never in the military and does not understand the concept of true teamwork.

  3. If I was a passenger I sure would be happy to have this reported – IF YOU’RE NOT ABLE TO DO YOUR JOB CALL IN SICK OR…….
    Emergencies are just that — unannounced, unexpected and require all hands AWAKE and able to take correct action!!!!
    As for those, pilots or not, who blame the reporter – just because it is common doesn’t mean it’s right. Yes there are surgeons who operate while intoxicated and yes other docs are hesitant to report – but if you were the patient which side would you take??????

  4. @est
    If every pilot who had noded off at some point in their carrer, were reported and removed from duty, we wouldnt be flying anywhere due to pilot shortage 😉

  5. Both men were at fault. If you are feeling sleepy then ask for the relief pilot. Now, with regards to the idiot FO. Wake the damn pilot up…that’s the prudent thing to do! Don’t be so childish and unprofessional as to behave in this manner and escalate the situation. Things can be handled in its proper way. Am sure the Captain is a very competent pilot but sh*t do happen sometimes. We are only human folks! We work as a team. I in no way condone what the Captain did.

  6. You pilots commenting might not think this is a big deal, but as a passenger it’s a little un-nerving. Seems like unprofessional conduct by both pilots.

  7. @JDS – of course this is a big deal! We never said that it wasn’t. Please point out who said it was. Scandinavian Aviator?

  8. @RonB
    I agree the co-pilot deserves censure. I’m less keen on the military analogy when it comes to China Airlines….their lamentable safety record is largely a consequence of that very military culture ( or at least the worst aspects of it). It’s a much better, safer airline for having ditched it in recent years.

  9. As a frequent flyer, that fo was a jerk. The plane was in autopilot anyway and I’d rather have an alert pilot landing the plane.

  10. Flying “long haul” can be a lot like playing right field (in baseball for our European friends) … hours of boredom punctuated by moments of hyper vigilance. The saying “don’t let me wake up and find you sleeping” comes to mind.

  11. Discipline that Copilot for not waking the Pilot up! Seriously what’s the issue? Have you ever heard a pilot over the intercom? They always sound like they’re ready for a nap. Hopefully the pilot snitches to his coworkers on who reported him.

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