Friday, October 23, 2009
`This Is Your Captain Snoring...'
[Updated with CNN report: Controllers feared hijacking AFTER talking to an "nonresponsive" pilot]
Oops, a Northwest/Delta A320 with 147 passengers on board overflew the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles, with the pilots failing to respond to radio calls Wednesday night.
Upon landing after the ... uh, sojourn, the pilots told the FBI and airport police that "they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness," according to the National Transportation Safety Board in an initial advisory on the incident.
Thank God this alleged heated discussion didn't escalate into a knock-down drag-out fist-fighting, hair-pulling, shrieking brawl, like that recent incident on an Air India flight where the pilots left the cockpit in flight over Pakistan to get into a donnybrook with flight attendants in the front of the plane.
Obviously, two pilots in a cockpit on approach to a major airport who overshoot it and fly on blissfully for 78 minutes, failing to acknowledge radio calls, sounds an awful lot like two pilots who were asleep, assuming they weren't involved in some "heated discussion" that caused them to forget where the hell they were. Which happens to have been in the crowded airspace of a major international airport.
More to come on this fiasco, you can bet.
[Update}: Like this report on CNN (quoting an unnamed federal source) saying that controllers feared the plane had been hijacked AFTER they finally made contact with the cockpit and found a pilot so "nonresponsive" that they ordered the crew to execute certain "maneuvers" to provide evidence that the pilots in fact were in control of the plane.]