Air safety investigators are studying voice and flight data recorders to find out whether the crew of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 was asleep at the controls. Air traffic controllers could not contact the flight crew for more than an hour yesterday, triggering fears of a possible hijacking.
Peter Goelz, former managing director for the National Transportation Safety Board, says the pilots are facing a serious disciplinary situation. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Friday. Below is an edited transcript of that the interview.
John Roberts: Peter, I know there are a lot of details yet to come out about this. What's your initial reaction to what happened? What are you thinking here?
Peter Goelz: Well, this is really disturbing. The pilots are saying they were engaged in a heated discussion, and that that distracted them. And there are indications, also, that the NTSB is going to look at whether these guys were simply asleep. But in any case, they certainly were not doing their jobs.
By Mike M. Ahlers
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A passenger flight from San Diego, California, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, overshot its destination airport by about 150 miles Wednesday, and federal investigators are looking into whether the pilots had become distracted, as they claimed, or perhaps fallen asleep.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TRAVEL/10/23/airliner.fly.by/art.minneapolis.gi.jpg.jpg caption="An aerial view shows downtown Minneapolis."]
Air traffic controllers lost radio communication with the Northwest Airlines 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 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.
By Nailah Ellis Timberlake
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 41 states are currently experiencing widespread influenza activity and that the number of cases is unprecedented.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/09/30/h1n1.vaccine.decision/art.h1n1.vaccine.csl.gi.jpg caption="Clinical trials to test the effectiveness and safety of the H1N1 vaccine have been under way since the summer."]
Among the heavy flu states is New York. In New York City, the numbers of infected were huge last spring at the outset of the H1N1, or Swine Flu epidemic.
Even though young children are being the hardest hit by the swine flu, many parents are not sold on the idea of vaccinating their young children. Queens resident Darrow Hill, father of a 4-year-old girl, is adamantly against it.
"I don't believe that giving vaccines at an early age is a good idea," he said. "It doesn't let the body fight off illnesses naturally and it leaves the body susceptible." In a press release issued this week, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said that, "getting vaccinated is safe, effective and simple," and urges parents to allow their children to be immunized.
Darrow said he would let his daughter get vaccinated only if a child she had been in direct contact with became infected.
Turia Goggins is a teacher's assistant at a Harlem elementary school where her students have already been sent home with permission slips for their parents to sign – or not sign – depending on whether they wanted their children to receive the H1N1 vaccine.
"At work, I'm worried about being infected and I'm constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitizer and having my students do the same," Goggins said. "It's overwhelming to be put at risk working in a school every day and then to worry about my child's health as well."