The pilots of Northwest Airlines flight 188 that overflew their destination airport by 150 miles may have their licenses suspended, according to the FAA. That is unfortunate for the pilots, but perfectly understandable. I do not agree that we should automatically assume that the pilots were asleep, though that may seem like the most logical explanation. We will have to see how the investigation turns out.
At the same time, Azza Air, operator of the ill-fated Boeing 707 that crashed in the UAE earlier this week, has been banned from operating within the UAE until the investigation into the accident has been completed. A piece of debris seen falling from the aircraft, and initially thought to have been an engine, has apparently been identified as a panel from the cowling on one of the engines. Whether or not that contributed to the accident remains to be seen, but the Cockpit Voice Recorder has already been recovered and teams of investigators are going through the rest of the wreckage to try to determine what went wrong.
Predictably, Sudan is blaming US trade sanctions for preventing the acquisition of spare parts for Sudanese aircraft. However, the US has repeatedly stated that the sanctions will not prevent the shipment of aircraft parts to Sudan if they are requested. I am not an expert on the sanctions, but I did browse through them briefly. I could not find anything that specifically stated aircraft parts were exempt from the sanctions, but there is a blanket exemption covering items necessary for humanitarian aid. I suppose necessary parts for the safe operation of aircraft could be included in that exemption.