Pilot locked out of cockpit after co-pilot falls asleep:report

A pilot of a low-cost Dutch airline was locked out of the cockpit mid-flight after his co-pilot fell asleep, an aviation report has said, promptingauthorities to launch a probe into the bizarre incident.

Dutch authorities said the incident occurred on a Boeing 737 flight to Crete in September, but it was only made public yesterday after the release of the Dutch aviation safety board's (OVV) quarterly report.

An investigation has been launched by the low-cost Dutch airline Transavia, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM, after one of its pilots was locked out of the cockpit mid-flight after his co-pilot fell asleep, The Telegraph reported.

"After two and a half hours in the air the captain of the Dutch-registered plane left the cockpit to go to the toilet," the report said.

"A little later he wanted to return to the cockpit. When he used the intercom to call the first officer to open the door he got no reaction. When he managed to get into the cockpit, he found the first officer asleep," it said.

The Dutch aviation safety board described the episode as "serious" and said that Transavia had launched an investigation. It added that it would decide what action to take after receiving the airline's report.

The incident comes ahead of controversial new EU legislations that could see pilots forced to work longer shifts.

According to the British Airline Pilots Association, the proposals would increase the maximum number of hours flying crew spend at work from 16 hours and 15 minutes a day to 20 hours.

Last year a survey by the European Cockpit Association suggested that four in 10 pilots have fallen asleep at the controls of an aircraft.

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