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Northwest Airline Pilots Suspended after laptop use

Northwest Airline Pilots Suspended after laptop use

The incident with 2 Northwest pilots which took place on October 21, 2009 has escalated. The Federal Aviation Administration has now announced the indefinite suspension of the licenses of the pilots of Northwest Flight 188. Captain Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole have now been suspended after using laptops on the flight and missing the runway by 150 miles. (And people complain about Ryan Air flying miles outside the destination!)

Northwest Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis on October 21, 2009 failed to land at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled and overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles. Once the problem was noticed the pilots had to circle back to land. (See below)

Northwest Airlines Flight 188 Route

The pilots have denied that they were asleep, drunk or arguing at the controls. They claim that they were in a heated debate about a new pilots scheduling system which was in use following the merger of Delta and Northwest airlines back in 2008.

The FAA will be using the results from the inflight data recorder – however since this only records 30 to 60 minutes of data this might be a problem.

Northwest Airlines has offered the 144 passengers of Flight 188 travel vouchers of $500 as compensation.

Northwest Airlines Pilots using Laptops while flying get lost

It turns out that the Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles were using laptops.

The incident involving a Northwest Airlines Airbus A320, raised fears of a possible hijacking and there were 2 fighters ready to take off as all ATC (Air Traffic Control) attempts failed.

The 2 pilots, both of which have now been suspended, whose Northwest Airlines plane went 150 miles further than it should have on Wednesday, said they were using their laptop computers. The federal agency (FAA) investigating the incident quoted the pilots as saying they had “accessed their personal computers during the flight” and “had lost track of time” as they discussed staff rostering. The was no ATC contact with the Northwest Airlines for more than an hour before it landed in Minneapolis.

The initial speculation was that they had fallen asleep, but the initial rumour was that they got into a heated discussion and lost track of where they were.

They admitted that during their discussion, they did not monitor or respond to calls from air traffic control via voice and to messages relayed to the in-flight systems via text.

My Thoughts…
What I can’t understand is how 2 trained pilots could disregard ATC. If you start ignoring this, then you might ignore or be slow to respond to onboard alerts from other systems such as TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System).

Could they have been asleep but covered it up with this – a less alarming story?