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FAA grounds wayward Northwest Airlines pilots

FAA grounds wayward Northwest Airlines pilots

The two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their Minneapolis destination by 240km are grounded indefinitely unless the National Transportation Safety Board grants them a reprieve.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that it had revoked the licenses of the pilots of Northwest Flight 188 - Timothy Cheney, the captain, and Richard Cole, the first officer.
The pilots have 10 days to appeal to the three-member National Transportation Safety Board, the same agency that investigates air crashes and makes safety recommendations. If an appeal fails, they can apply for a new license after one year.
The pilots told investigators they were working on their personal laptop computers and lost track of time and place last Wednesday night.
Flight 188 was out of communication for more than an hour during the incident despite repeated attempts by air traffic controllers in two states to reach the airliner, the FAA said in a statement. Northwest's dispatchers also tried eight times to contact the pilots, without response, the agency said.
The pilots violated numerous federal regulations, including failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating their aircraft carelessly and recklessly, the agency said.
"You engaged in conduct that put your passengers and your crew in serious jeopardy," FAA regional counsel Eddie Thomas wrote Cheney in a letter accompanying the revocation order. "NW188 was without communication with any air traffic control facility and with its company dispatcher for a period of 91 minutes while you were on a frolic of your own. Failing to comply with ATC clearances or instructions while engaged in air carrier operations is extremely reckless." A similar letter was sent to Cole.
The pilots said they realized they had overshot their destination when a flight attendant contacted them on the aircraft's intercom. By then, they were over the neighboring state of Wisconsin at 11,300m. They turned the Airbus A320 with its 144 passengers around and landed safely in Minneapolis.
Earlier, the union had cautioned against a rush to judgment. The pilots told investigators who interviewed them on Sunday that they had no previous accidents or safety incidents.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in a statement late Tuesday: "The pilots in command of Northwest Flight 188 remain suspended until the conclusion of the investigations into this incident."


Updated : 2021-06-17 18:00 GMT+08:00