How Precisely Does A Pilot Forget He’s Effing Flying a Plane?
This was in my newsreader this morning. Just wow.
By Mike M. Ahlers
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Northwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Minneapolis 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 fell 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 the airplane for more than an hour as it approached the airport, the board said.
The aircraft flew over its intended destination – Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport – and continued northeast for approximately 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 board spokesman said the agency is examining all possible explanations for the mishap, including whether the pilots may 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. Cockpit voice recorders record cockpit conversations and other noises.
The safety board said the Federal Aviation Administration and Northwest Airlines are taking part in the investigation.