Sleeping pilot overflew his island destination by 29 miles

MELBOURNE, Australia — Airline officials say a pilot is under investigation after falling asleep in the cockpit of a freight plane and overflying his Australian island destination by 46 kilometers (29 miles).

Airline Vortex Air says the pilot was the only person aboard the twin-propeller Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftain and was flying on autopilot during the flight this month from Devonport city on Tasmania northwest to King Island in Bass Strait.

The Melbourne-based airline said in a statement Tuesday that the pilot “unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft.”

It said: “The issue became apparent when air traffic control was unable to contact the pilot in-flight.”

The airline said the pilot landed safely on King Island. The pilot has not been identified.

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