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A Debate Should Never Keep A Plane From Landing

Northwest Airport Overflown

“Ladies and gentlemen this is your captain speaking.  We just wanted to let you know if you look out the left window you’ll notice that we’re over one of the Great Lakes.  It looks like we’ve managed to over fly our destination just a bit.  The first officer and I were having a heated discussion.  The tower’s been trying to contact us for the past hour or so but we forgot to turn our radio on.  There’s nothing to worry about.  This is totally understandable.  Those military aircrafts flying around us are going to escort us to our destination.  We’re going to reestablish contact with the ground and get some instructions so we can turnaround and go back about a hundred fifty miles or so.  We should’ve been on the ground thirty or so minutes ago.  We’ll be on the ground shortly.  Flight crew prepare for landing.”

The cockpit crew of Northwest Airlines Flight 188 says they were having a heated discussion about airline policy or some nonsense.  And at no time did the pilot or copilot go to sleep.  We’re supposed to believe that the cockpit crew were so engaged in making their points that they forgot they were sitting at the helm of an Airbus A320, forgot that they were responsible for the lives of about a hundred fifty people, forgot that they were supposed to keep in radio contact in case they needed to receive any unexpected instructions from the FAA.  I mean, after the terrorist attack on that fateful day that made September 11th so infamous, anybody flying a plane should be prepared to receive instructions to suddenly land.  All I can say is that if it was a debate that kept them from landing that plane it must’ve been a debate with the Sandman.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Police were first to meet the jet’s crew and reported the pilot and copilot as cooperative, apologetic and appreciative.  Both the pilot, Timothy B. Cheney, and the first officer, Richard I. Cole, submitted to a breathalyzer and the results were a flat zero for the detection of alcohol.  When the authorities boarded the plane, the cockpit cabin door was open, but the flight attendants said that there was no interaction between the cockpit and passengers.  The lead flight attendant told authorities that she was unaware there had been an incident aboard.  Supposedly there is no obvious explanation for why the airplane was flying for seventy eight minutes of total radio silence at 8:00 PM eastern time the past Wednesday night.  The investigation being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board was hoping the plane’s cockpit voice recorder would either confirm or deny the cockpit crew’s account.  But the device is good for only thirty minutes of audio.  But the voice recorder was capable of recording only thirty minutes of audio.  The plane was in the air for another forty five minutes after radio contact was restored.

There is no obvious explanation for the incident except the fact that the cabin crew fell asleep and is now trying to cover up their mistake.  And even if they didn’t fall asleep, even if their story is true that they simply forgot that they were flying a plane full of people traveling hundreds of miles an hour through the air at an altitude of tens of thousands of feet, the two are still seriously irresponsible.  These two can no longer be trusted to keep the welfare and safety of the passengers and the plane their paramount concern.

But let these two hold on to their claim that this was nothing but the result of a series of unfortunate incidents.  A discussion about airline policy was all it took to send a plane a hundred fifty miles off course and put the FAA on high alert.  In fact, some people want to question the actions of FAA personnel under investigation because they didn’t call NORAD to send military planes to potentially shoot the wayward plane down.  The aftermath of all those planes being used as missiles has really made us jumpy.  If people don’t leap at the first sign of trouble and smash that kill button at then they need to be investigated.  People need to learn that here in America we don’t live in an age where we can afford cooler heads prevailing.

And how it look if we are going to hold FAA personnel’s feet to the proverbial fire for not calling the military to potentially shoot down a wayward plane, but then buy the heated discussion excuse of a couple of pilots who overshot their destination by a hundred fifty miles.  It’s my opinion that whoever was in that cabin when that plane flew over that airport should lose their pilots license.  It doesn’t matter if they were sleep or in a debate.  The only excuse we could buy is that somebody broke into the cabin and actually interfered with the crew or the controls.  Doesn’t sound like that happened.  The only thing I can say is that if they were arguing about what should happen to pilots who fail to do their job, they are about to find out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts


  1. I don’t even know what to say about this, other than glad I wasn’t on the plane…what is it about Minneapolis and high profile mishaps with planes and airports restrooms?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Monday, October 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. LOL Mike, My mind ran on the bathroom incident and wondered if the pilots were engaged in more than an heated debate. Sounded more like a passionate debate. Really, I believe they were asleep at the wheel. Unlike the military, the FAA does not allow commercial pilots to sleep on flights, at least thats the rule. But, we never really know whats going on in the cockpit. Or should I say flight deck…LOL
    Nice post BP!

    Comment by Ensayn | Monday, October 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Now the pilots say they were on their laptops looking up information about their debate. They say the debate was about scheduling and Delta’s takeover. But we really know they were debating something they read here on BrotherP’s blog.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Monday, October 26, 2009 | Reply

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