Everyone who has flown or intends to fly on commercial aircraft were more than dismayed at the prospect of two Northwest pilots who missed landing their plane at the Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport. At first, it was speculated that they fell asleep. They confess that they were on their laptops dealing with their work schedules. (Delta, who owns Northwest, says that it is against flight rules for a laptop to be used in the cockpit.)
First of all, I find it hard to believe both pilots were dealing with their schedules for over 45 minutes. They over shot their destination by 45 minutes of flight time. They then must have been on their laptops well before they got the Minneapolis, because they failed to begin their approach for landing. Airline controllers tried for a long time reach them by radio, but only received silence (or static). Other pilots tried to reach them with the same result. The plane’s instruments would have lit up, with noise, to alert them that landing was imminent. It was a flight attendant who finally roused them from their computer stupor, or whatever they were doing. I mean really – how can two pilots miss bringing a plane in for a landing? There is a reason why there are two pilots on a plane.
On our way back from vacation in early October, we flew Northwest from New York to Sacramento, through Minneapolis – St. Paul. I’m glad we made it back home in one peace and without incident.
Writing this, I just heard that the pilots lost their license to fly. Delta had previously announced that they would be fired.
I just don’t buy their story. Their alibi doesn’t jive with the events and the attempts to contact them. What were they really doing in that secure cockpit? Were they sleeping? Long flights can be monotonous and large planes virtually fly themselves. So, sleeping is possible and some pilots have taken cat naps in flight. But let’s assume that they were on their laptops. Were they in a dungeon in World of Warcraft? Were they advancing in Mafia Wars on Facebook? Or were they doing something as mundane as playing solitaire? Perhaps they were in an online hold ‘em tournament.
Whatever they were doing for over an hour was not checking their schedules. If they truly were doing that, it is ironic that they no longer have a schedule to study.
I have 3,500 hours as an air force navigator, am a private pilot, and have spent countless hours in commercial jump seats while employed by the FAA. I can assure you that the vast, vast majority of commercial and military aviators are consummate professionals. That being said, I, as a passenger on that plane, having been given the expected arrival time, could tell you during the flight, within two to three minutes, when the descent would begin. So the question is, where were the flight attendants? As the ARRIVAL TIME came and went, and they were blissfully cruising along at altitude, why didn\’t one of them say something??? My speculation is that within 15 minutes of the arrival time at least a dozen people were silently questioning what was going on. That aside, WHATEVER the pilots were doing most certainly warranted their firing by Delta and cancellation of their Airman Certificates (pilot\’s licenses) by the FAA. The details can be worked out later. Bottom line, there are over 25,000 commercial flights in the U.S.–PER DAY! Don\’t be afraid to fly, this was an extremely rare occurrence.