Arguing or perhaps sleeping Northwest pilots fly right past their airport

October 23, 2009

(ChattahBox) — A Northwest Airlines flight carrying 144 passengers from San Diego to Minneapolis lost contact with air controllers for more than an hour and overshot its destination airport by about 150 miles Wednesday.  The crew said they had been distracted by a “heated discussion” as they passed over Minneapolis at 37,000 feet just before 9 p.m. EDT Wednesday. And as a former frequent flyer of Northwest seeing how nasty their flight crews were, that wouldn’t surprise me much that they turned on each other.However FAA officials are suspicious for a number of reasons and will check to see if the pilot crew perhaps had fallen asleep. Contact with controllers wasn’t established until 14 minutes after they passed their destination, which of course raised big concerns something serious had happened to the plane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident. By that time, the plane was over Eau Claire, Wis., more than 100 miles beyond Minneapolis.  The two Northwest Airlines pilots should have had numerous warnings that their flight was nearing its destination in Minneapolis, with controllers trying to reach the plane by radio, and the Airbus A320’s brightly lit cockpit flight displays telling the pilots that it was time to start descending to land. Likely the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, which are being sent to Washington for analysis will either confirm the sounds of an argument or just quiet and snoring.

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