General Aviation > Civil Aviation News

Two Airbus A-320 Pilots suspended over 241km detour

(1/3) > >>

 Fri Oct 23 2009  Two US pilots have been  suspended from duty after overflying their destination by 241 kilometres while  having an argument about airline policy. News Limited reports the pilots, who were carrying 144 passengers  for Northwest Airlines, lost contact with air traffic controllers for more than  an hour.
The US National Transportation Safety Board said the two pilots of  the Airbus A320 told authorities after landing that they had become distracted  during a "heated discussion about airline policy".
Investigators will consider flight data, voice recording and  whether the pilots were fatigued before deciding on what action to take.
Airport police were initially concerned that the flight had been  hijacked and stormed the plane in when it landed in the north-eastern city of  Minneapolis.
The pilots have been taken off duty while an investigation takes  place.

Oops! Here's the story by CNN, with a bit more info:

--- Quote from: CNN ---WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Northwest Airlines flight from San Diego, California, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, overshot the Minneapolis airport by about 150 miles Wednesday evening, and federal investigators are looking into whether the pilots had become distracted, as they claimed, or perhaps fallen asleep.
Air traffic controllers lost radio communication with the Airbus A320, carrying 147 passengers and an unknown number of crew, when it was flying at 37,000 feet, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. There was no communication with Flight 188 for more than an hour as it approached the airport, the board said.
When air traffic controllers finally made contact with the pilot, his answers were so vague that controllers feared the plane might have been hijacked, according to a source familiar with the incident.
The controllers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, ordered the pilot to make a series of unnecessary maneuvers to convince them the pilots were in control of the flight, the source said, adding that fighter jets were poised in Madison, Wisconsin, but were never deployed.
Controllers tracked the aircraft on radar as it flew over its intended destination -- Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport -- and continued northeast for about 150 miles over the next 16 minutes. The airport's controllers then re-established communication with crew members, who said they had become distracted, the safety board said.
"The crew stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness," the board said in a news release.
A federal official, who asked not to be identified, told CNN that air traffic controllers in the Denver, Colorado, area had communicated with the pilot, but the pilots were "nonresponsive" during a subsequent communication. The plane was handed off to controllers in Minneapolis as a NORDO, the designation for "no radio communications."
The Federal Aviation Administration contacted the airline and had its dispatcher try to reach the pilots, the federal official said.
Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said numerous controllers were involved in efforts to contact the plane, including text messages, and that "concern escalated" as the pilot neared the airport "without making any effort to descend."
Ultimately, controllers contacted two other Northwest planes, asking them to try to reach Flight 188 through its last known frequency. One of those planes succeeded, prompting the pilot to contact Minneapolis, Church said.
"It was pretty good ATC (air traffic control) detective work," he added.
An NTSB spokesman said the agency is examining all possible explanations for the incident, including whether the pilots might have fallen asleep.
The safety board said it is scheduling an interview with the crew and has secured the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder for examination. The recorders capture cockpit conversations and other noises.
Reported instances of two pilots falling asleep are rare. In August, the safety board concluded its investigation into a February 13, 2008, incident in which two pilots aboard a Go airlines flight fell asleep and traveled 26 miles beyond the destination of Hilo, Hawaii, before waking and contacting air traffic controllers.
Northwest Airlines is part of Delta Air Lines, which issued a statement Thursday, saying it is "cooperating with the FAA and NTSB in their investigation, as well as conducting our own internal investigation. The pilots have been relieved from active flying pending the completion of these investigations."
It said Flight 188 landed safely in Minneapolis just after 9 p.m.
Delta suffered another major embarrassment this week when a Delta pilot landed a passenger jet on a taxiway at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport instead of the runway. The NTSB also is investigating that case.

CNN, October 23, 2009

--- End quote ---


Oct 25, 2009

The first officer of the Northwest Airlines jet that missed its destination by 240km says there was no disagreement in the cockpit, neither he nor the captain was napping and the passengers were never in any danger.

But in an interview with The Associated Press two days after he and a colleague flew past their destination as air traffic controllers tried frantically to reach them, pilot Richard Cole would not say just what it was that led to them to forget to land Flight 188.

Wonder if there is any other work around that pilots can do?
Shop assistant in a model plane shop maybe?  ;D

F-111 C/C:
I say they were sleeping! We had a -111 crew land with major damage to the leading edge of the wing. They said it was a birdstrike! Yeah, RIGHT, at night! Well a few days later they were found to have both fallen asleep while flying cross country, and the jet slowly, gradually lost altitude until they were woken up by the leading edge of the wing taking out a radio tower in the Midwest somewhere!!! I think they were flying a desk after that incident.

The latest on this

The pilots of a commercial passenger jet that overshot its destination by 150 miles - sparking fears of a hijacking - have claimed that they were on their personal laptops and lost track of time.

Air traffic controllers and dispatchers attempted to contact Flight 188, a Northwest Airlines Airbus A380 with 144 passengers travelling between San Diego and Minneapolis, for more than an hour with the plane at 37,000 feet.

They now claim in an interview with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that they lost track of time while talking about crew scheduling arrangements. They were also on their personal laptops, which violates the company's safety policy.

    * We weren't asleep, say pilots who overshot landing

    * Flight attendant alerted pilots who missed airport

Both have now been relieved of active flying duties pending the outcome of the investigations.

“The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from (air traffic controllers) even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio,” the NTSB said, after the interviews. “Both said they lost track of time."

The pilots claimed that they were only made aware of the plane’s wayward state when a flight attendant asked them about their scheduled arrival time. The captain looked at his flight display data, realised the mistake and then contacted controllers for permission to turn around.
The plane landed without incident in Minneapolis.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version