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Air Canada pilot mistook Venus for another aircraft, diving hundreds of feet


A report released Monday said a sleepy Air Canada pilot dived plane hundreds of feet to avoid an imaginary aircraft.


John Li

A sleepy Air Canada pilot dove his plane hundreds of feet after mistakenly believing that his aircraft was about to collide with another airplane over the Atlantic.

A report released Monday, found that the pilot en route from Toronto to Zurich in January of last year had just awoke from sleep and mistook Venus for an oncoming aircraft, taking a sharp nosedive.

Passengers who were not wearing seatbelts were thrown from their seats as the plane made a 40-second dive to 400 feet.

Seven were hospitalized, and 16 were injured, reported CBC News.

“This occurrence underscores the challenge of managing fatigue on the flight deck,” Jon Lee, the investigator in charge, said in a statement, according to the Globe and Mail.

“It also shows that in-flight passenger injuries can be prevented by wearing seatbelts at all times while seated.”

Although pilots are allowed to take short rests on overnight flights, the report claims that the pilots did not follow procedure for 'controlled sleeps' of 40 minutes each, said the National Post.

Passengers recounted to CBC News that the flight crew did not explain what had happened and until now believed that it had been turbulence.

The incident report is likely to open further debate about pilot scheduling and hours spent in the air.