Correction: Delta pilots did NOT fall asleep – however radio communications were lost for ~30 minutes!

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Yesterday John, who frequently guest posts here on the blog, reported that Delta pilots feel asleep on a chartered jet flight 8957 from Frankfurt to Kuwait. There were number of articles published about this incident:

However it seems, according to Delta Corp, much of the post here on the blog was incorrect. While it was true that communications were in fact lost for about half an hour they were reestablished and the crews were never asleep. F16s were in fact scrambled and would have been visible by those on-board the flight. I was further told that:

“ no point were the flight deck crew asleep, rather they were actively working to reestablish radio communications with Greek air traffic control as they transitioned into their airspace. The assertion that passengers aboard the flight alerted the flight attendants who then “banged on the cockpit door” is also completely untrue. Radio communications were reestablished after approximately 30 minutes, not an hour as suggested in the story. I also don’t know where the claim that Delta has “promised an internal investigation” came from–that was not included in the statement nor is that really true.” – Michael Thomas Delta Air Lines

This is reassuring as it has been a long time since the incident where NWA crews were so distracted (i.e. possibly asleep) that they missed the airport by 150 miles.

I am not sure how often communication is lost between crews and ground control and I would assume most times short lapses would have little or no impact on safety but in this case, due to the Egypt air events, it is easy to understand why folks would be concerned and reacted the way they did.

I was further told that the issue happened between Albanian and Greek air space and the problem occurred when the crew changed to a new frequency and could not establish communication. They then tried the old frequency and later were able to reestablish communications. At no time were light signals sent from the F16 jets according to Delta.

I very much appreciate the updated information from Delta regarding this incident and apologize for the incorrect information in the previous post. – René


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  1. Good job on Follow up and retraction. I do think Delta would not admit to the full facts.

  2. I wouldn’t take their word for it – I think Delta have proved time and time again to be morally bankrupt.

    Find a Greek source – I doubt the pilots have kept quiet

  3. Some how I do not think it was as Delta explains since F-16s were dispatched to check it out … OH I get it, Delta will say it was just a training exercise for the Greek pilots …

    Delta speak reminds me of a scene from an old movie … 6-7 wives in the kitchen talking at a dinner get together and the guys were all in the other room when the main star (wife) says to the other wives when the subject came up about the guys talking about work … “they are businessmen, it is their JOB to lie”.

    They are the new breed of Delta Executives, it is their JOB to …

  4. @Ron & Geoff – All I can say is anytime you see an F16 (or two) outside your jet you are having a bad day one way or the other!

  5. @René and hopefully not your last one!

    And technically is john wrong if the pilots did feel asleep!? When I feel asleep I’m just as useless and incommunicable as if I were catching some zzz… 😉

    Spin that Delta.

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