The investigation into the overshooting Northwest Airlines flight continues. The National Transportation Safety Board has found that the pilots were distracted by conversations and the use of personal laptops when flying 150 miles past Minneapolis. One of the topics being bandied about was scheduling, though I suspect it didn’t involve the impact of a late arrival because of a missed airport.
According to the NTSB, “The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from (air traffic controllers) even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio.” In the report generated by its investigation, the NTSB continued, “Both said they lost track of time.” Meanwhile air traffic controllers and airline dispatchers were trying to contact Flight 188 for more than an hour. Neither pilot realized something was amiss until they were asked about it by a flight attendant.
Delta was pretty quick to announce that the pilots were involved in activities not related to flying and that they could be fired for it. For now, the fliers are suspended pending the results of the government’s investigation (and one by the airline itself).
All eyes are on the Northwest Airlines crew that missed Minneapolis by 150 miles. Rumors abound, such as dozing and arguments in the cockpit. Richard Cole, a crewmember on Northwest Flight 188, wouldn’t talk, except to say that it wasn’t his fault: “But other than that, I cannot tell you anything that went on because we’re having hearings this weekend, we’re having hearings on Tuesday. All that information will come out then.”
The flight had 144 passengers and five crewmembers and left San Diego for Minneapolis. At one point in the trip, there were 78 minutes of radio silence, and when the air traffic controllers reconnected with the crew, it had overshot the airport by 150 miles. The police who met the plane said the pilots were “cooperative, apologetic and appreciative.”
The plane was pulling back from the gate at Denver International Airport last year when Rayborn broke the news to the man sitting next to him while grabbing his bag. As a result of this episode, the flight was delayed for four hours while bomb-sniffing dogs searched the plane. All 140 passengers were screened again.
The 56-year-old gump responsible for making air travel even more difficult will celebrate his 60th birthday with the thought that he’s repaid his debt to society. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like enough.
If you happen to be flying Northwest on or near a transatlantic (TATL) route in the near future, keep an eye out for the 757 with a UPS rudder. Looks like Northwest needed a replacement part and the only thing they could find was from a UPS jet. I guess if it comes to operating with a ridiculous looking plane for profit versus a broken plane with no profit you have to go with the money; but its also easy to see here how high of a priority aesthetics are.
A plane like this reminds of driving around in my hometown in West Michigan seeing the beat up junkers with off-color fenders and hoods. Heck, for a couple of years I even drove a ’93 Ford Ranger that was tarp-blue with black quarter panels. And from my past experiences with these type of vehicles, well, it makes me kind of feel like this plane is kind of jerry-rigged.
CNN Money ran it’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business site again this year. #2 was unbelievable. Apparently, just before laying off 4000+ more workers mid-last-year during its bankruptcy, Northwest Airlines handed out to its employees a guide for saving money: 101 Ways to Save Money.
The guide had in it suggestions such as #46 “don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.” Or, shred newspapers to make cat litter (or was it in-flight food?), make your own baby food, and take walks in the woods to save money on a date. Another favorite: (#15) “Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids, from friends and relatives.”
Here’s hoping that nice blanket, pillow, and mixed nuts you enjoyed last flight weren’t the result of a dumpster-dive.