The UK pilots’ union says it is “no surprise” that a captain and co-pilot of the UK aircraft both reportedly fell asleep at the flight deck.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) was responding to reports of the incident on August 13 due to long shifts and a lack of sleep.

The union said it has repeatedly warned the Civil Aviation Authority of the risk of both pilots falling asleep, including in a letter to each member of the board of the regulator last year.

General secretary Jim McAuslan said: “British pilots want to make every flight a safe flight and tiredness is the biggest challenge they face.

“As the regulator responsible for UK flight safety the CAA has been far too complacent about the levels of tiredness among British pilots and failing to acknowledge the scale of the underreported problem.

“In fact the CAA and government are backing EU cuts to UK flight safety that will increase tiredness among pilots and the risk of dangerous incidents.”

The European Parliament votes on new EU rules on pilot flying hours on Monday that will cut UK safety standards, the union warned.

It claims that the new rules will dilute existing high UK safety standards and introduce weaker EU regulations, which lack scientific support or evidence.

The new rules will permit a pilot to land an aircraft having been awake for 22 hours or more, with a level of tiredness that is the equivalent of being four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying, Balpa said.

Nine out of ten members of UK consumers said this was of concern to them in a recent Balpa poll.

The union has called on MEPs voting in the EU transport committee to back a motion that would require the European Commission to withdraw its proposals and to subject them to proper scientific and medical scrutiny.