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October 26th, 2009
09:28 AM ET

Pilots of wayward flight talk to NTSB

Washington (CNN) - Federal investigators have interviewed the pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight that overshot the airport in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said on Sunday.

The NTSB also said that flight attendants might be interviewed on Monday, and that it would not release further information for now.

Northwest Flight 188, carrying 144 people and five crew members, flew past Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport during a mysterious 78 minutes of radio silence beginning about 7:56 p.m. ET Wednesday while en route from San Diego, California.

The Airbus 320 was over the Denver, Colorado, area when the radio silence began. Air traffic controllers re-established radio contact after the plane had flown about 150 miles past its destination.

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Filed under: Airline safety
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Dawne Miller

    Lighten up!!! The children were clearly parroting what their father ( the air traffic controller) was telling them to say - the children were not directing air traffic as any idiot can clearly see.

    March 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  2. Ronald Assee

    Ron Traub I agree with you we all fly and need to feel safe and that these pilots are no different that truck drivers falling asleep during they duties...I heard some one on CNN say the passangers was not in any danger this guy is just trying to protect the pilots.

    all airlnes carry minimum fuel and extra for the alternative airport so that flight I am sure just landed with fumes remaining in the tanks.

    someone should find out how much fuel was in the aircraft when it landed then you will know how dangerous this was to the passangers.

    October 27, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  3. Ronald Assee

    Reason I am trying to figure you out man listen have you ever worked with an airline, its not just that they over shot the destination airport at crusing flight level at about 80 to 60 miles before destination airport the crew had to be instructed to decend to approved flight levels for approch to the destination airport, so say from flight level 37,000 ft air traffic control would of call them to decend to flight level say 23,000 ft at about 35 min before destination airport this would of started the decent into MN airport, then again a call to decend at flight level say 17,000 ft an so on until approch flight level at about flight level 2100 ft at this time they would have been in line with the runway. but instead they was at flight 370 over shooting MN I say they were sleeping.

    October 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  4. yola

    I do believe they were NOT sleeping or on their labtops, I believe they were having sex yes you read right they were engaged in sex with each other and they should be fired because they should know better when flying alot of people could have been hurt or died.

    October 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  5. Ronald Assee

    Stray NWA jet, Listen to what I have to say about this, It is not a new thing for pilots to sleep while on duty, I have worked with Airlines before as a flight dispatcher and have flew the cockpit as part of the crew and as a jumpseater and I tell you its shocking.
    I flew with a 3 man crew lots of times and they will take turns to sleep, its true.
    Say the captain will do the takeoff and say two or three legs of the flight then the co-pilot will do the rest of the flight until its time to land.
    I remember I was jumpseating on a four hour flight late at night and after we took off I fell asleep and about two hours into the flight I got up and saw all three crew members sleeping and the aircraft was just as usual on auto pilot just crusing. beleive me it happens. its no was they were on laptops or chatting and not hearing the call from the control centers trying to contact them, its no way.
    This should be a wake up call for all pilots because to many accidents and mishaps happen because of these type of habbits on the job.

    October 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  6. Ron Traub

    These Delta/Northwest pilots should be heavily fined, their FAA pilot licences should be revoked for life.

    Delta should be heavily penalized for lack of proper control. They suddenly became the largest airline in the world. It seems obvious they cannot manage and/or properly supervise this large operation.

    Only a few days ago a Delta 767 flying into ATL landed in the taxiway instead of the actual runway ??????????? Regular white landing lights versus blue lights??? Too much coincidence??? I do doubt it.

    We need a very good explanation from the airline, or stop using them till they get their basic things under control.

    October 26, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  7. Reason

    I'm bothered that CNN is making a big deal about "a whole hour went by..." before NORAD was informed. To my thinking, we should not be constantly in fear and LOOKING for reasons to be fearful.
    The media is all talking about 150 miles overshoot, look at the time line 15 minutes. It is not as though the plane was not being tracked. So now this dumb CNN video featuring a boring person trying to make a story out of nothing has a disposition like FAA people were remiss. Military planes were on the ground ready to scramble. And so what next, what if it had been a hijacking, what are the planes going to do, just shoot the plane down? How is responding with military force going to change any part of the equation if they fighters showed up on the wayward plane's wing tips 5 or 10 minutes sooner? Either way it would not change anything. NORAD couldn't just shoot the plane down.

    To my thinking in this idiotic story, there is emphasis placed on an hour that went by, when what matters is how much time elapsed before there was suspicious behaviour. LESS THAN 15 minutes went by, and fighter interceptors were at the ready. That is hard to beat by any standard.

    October 26, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Truthallegory

    Interesting story. Watch how the governmental authoities clean this one up. Sanitized version will be attributed to mundane occurences which can happen to any plane. Commercial pilots encounter many strange events during flight. Most understand that REVEALING such events to the public could result in their dismissal, or worse. Plane entered a vortex of some kind, disabling radio communications-is my bet. Communications intereference from another craft, of unknown or known origins, has been known to disable some of the functions of our planes in flight. Question is, was there radar contact with the plane during the time radio communications were out, or unusable?

    Lastly, look into the co-pilots eyes as he tries to convey his story to a reporter. He isn't lying. He wants to say more. That much is apparent. However, saying more without being debriefed can be very dangerous...

    October 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  9. gerry

    This is being blown way out of proportion. I am a retired airline pilot of 33 years and an ex airforce pilot also. Being out of radio contact does not warrant launching interceptors. If it did they would be launching planes several times a day. Sometimes a plane will fly out of radio range of an ATC sector and while the pilots are still on the old frequency they are unable to hear the transmissions. Again, this happens often in the course of a day. That is still no excuse for overflying the destination. I feel that landing on a taxiway in ATL was a far more serious error.

    October 26, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  10. gmeier587

    This is nothing new for Northwest Airlines. Several years ago, a flight from Minneapolis to Rapid City, South Dakota landed at Ellsworth Air Force Base instead of the regional airport. Passengers were held on the plane along with the flight crew for several hours until the military could ascertain the safety status of the plane.

    October 26, 2009 at 11:04 am |