Monday, October 26, 2009

Pilot Claims Heated Discussion Caused them to Overshoot Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating why Northwest flight 188 overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles without radio contact before it turned around.

According to the National Transportation Board (NTSB), the jet carried 144 passengers and 5 crews.

None was injured because of the incident.

According to NTSB reports, the jet, an Airbus A320, lost radio contact at about 7:00 pm CDT while flying from San Diego to Minneapolis.

The jet flew over the airport before 8:00 pm and reestablished communication at 8:14 pm. They’ve overshot the airport by that time.

According to the FAA, the crew claimed that they became distracted over a heated discussion over airline policy and lost track of where they were.

However, the NTSB is also looking at other possible factors that may have caused the incident.

One of those is fatigue.

Authorities are looking into the possibility that the crew may have fallen asleep during the flight.

They will be examining the cockpit voice recorder and will be interviewing the pilots.

The two pilots have been suspended from flying while the airline performs its own investigation.

It does not sound too serious, but signs that pilots fall asleep at a crucial time while operating a giant vehicle 30,000 feet in the air with 144 passengers can be pretty disturbing.

Air traffic is very different from road traffic as it needs constant coordination with ground control.

When ground control cannot establish communication with a plane they may assume that there is trouble.

And now the pilots claim that they overshot the airport because they were in a heated discussion.

That must have been a pretty interesting discussion.

It is difficult to understand how a discussion over airline policy could prevent the pilots from establishing radio contact for more than an hour when both Denver and Minneapolis controllers are trying to communicate with them the entire time.

Hopefully the suspicion that they were asleep is not true.

Driver fatigue can cause major damages in a truck collision; it will be catastrophic in a plane accident.