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Source:- http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/item.aspx?type=blog&ak=620000370.blog


Minneapolis-bound flight overshoots airport by 150 miles


Pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight ignored radio calls and flew more than 150 miles past their destination as the military prepared to scramble fighter jets to intercept the plane in mid-air, federal authorities said Thursday.


The pilots "flew for 1 hour 18 minutes Wednesday night without responding to air-traffic radio calls, covering a distance of about 600 miles before finally turning around, according to data released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)," USA TODAY's Alan Levin writes.


Military fighter jets were called in to prepare to intercept the plane mid-air after repeated attempts to contact the pilot failed. "A source familiar with the investigation told the Associated Press that the pilots didn't become aware of their situation until a flight attendant contacted them through an intercom. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak publicly," USA TODAY writes.


The Wall Street Journal is today questioning whether the pilots fell asleep in the cockpit, which would explain the 78 minutes of radio silence.


"The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, among other things, whether the two pilots fell asleep at the controls," the WSJ writes. "The pair told law-enforcement officials who interviewed them upon landing in Minneapolis -- and apparently told fellow pilots later -- that they had been engaged in a 'heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness,' according to the NTSB."


The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports that the plane landed safely just after 9 p.m. in the Twin Cities, but that the deboarding process was different than passengers are used to. "When it pulled up to the gate, 'everybody stood up and got ready to exit,' passenger Lonnie Heidtke of Chippewa Falls, Wis., said. 'The flight attendant said, 'Everybody sit back down please.' "


Airport police then boarded the plane to make sure the loss of radio contact wasn't the result of criminal activity, Patrick Hogan, an airport spokesman, told the Pioneer Press.


The military jets that were on alert -- which is routine procedure -- never made it to the air, as the pilots made contact before it came to that. The pilots were interviewed upon landing, and investigators from the NTSB plan to review data from the plane's digital flight-data recorder, "which could offer clues as to what transpired during the period when airport controllers lost contact with the plane," the WSJ writes. "Initially, investigators focused on the possibility that both pilots might have fallen asleep in midflight, but later indications were that the crew may have lost track of where they were and then failed to swiftly notify controllers about their lapse."


This incident takes place as pilot fatigue is a hot topic among the FAA, airlines and pilots unions and is likely to stir up that debate. --Rebecca Heslin


Sure - those guys can fly me! :unsure::rolleyes:


Actually, I think I might ride the bike instead! :P



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Ahhhh yes, the old "I lost my situational awareness" defense.....

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Pilots were from west coast. Probably saw snow in MN and kept going.


Actually since Delta bought out Northwest, I've seen (I fly every 2 or 3 weeks for work) a bunch of pissing and moaning by ground crew, ramp attendants, flight attendants, etc. I got a feeling the pilots on this flight were bitching about just what they said - company procecural stuff and just plain ignored cockpit radios and warnings. No sleeping involved. What's odd is that they passed over the MSP destination at 37,000 feet. I would think autopilot would have lowered their flight elevation way below cruise altitude and set them up for proper glide slope instead. Bottom line is pilots are grounded pending investigation. Cockpit recorders only got the last 30 minutes - that would be normal flight back to MSP.


True story - back in the 80's I was working in New Orleans and got a free 3/4 helmet from an electrician I was working with. He just bought a new full face helmet as him and his buddies would race accross lake ponchatrain bridge so he gave me the 3/4 helmet. I brought the helmet on the airplane home with me and the sterwardess asked me if I was gonna were that thing. I told her it depends on how the 3 stooges up front drive. We both had a good laugh.

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