FAA To Investigate Pilots Of NW Airlines Flight 188  <





FAA To Investigate Pilots Of NW Airlines Flight 188

By Mike Mitchell       

October 24, 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident where an Airbus A320 overflew the Minneapolis-St Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport (MSP). On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, N03274, operating as Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet.

The flight was operating as a Part 121 flight from San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California (SAN) to MSP with 147 passengers and unknown number of crew. At 7:58 pm central daylight time (CDT), the aircraft flew over the destination airport and continued northeast for approximately 150 miles. The MSP center controller reestablished communications with the crew at 8:14 pm and reportedly stated that the crew had become distracted and had overflown MSP, and requested to return to MSP.

The FAA has sent out letters of investigation to the two pilots involved Timothy B. Cheney and First Officer Richard I. Cole. The letters stated "Depending on the outcome of our investigation, this action could lead to emergency suspension or revocation" of their licenses. The pilots of Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188 were out of contact with air traffic controllers who frantically tried to reach the plane for 1 hour and 18 minutes.

According to the Federal Administration (FAA) the crew was interviewed by the FBI and airport police.  The crew stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness.  The Safety Board is scheduling an interview with the crew. The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) have been secured and are being sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, DC. David Lawrence, the Investigator-in-Charge, is leading the team of 3 in investigating the incident. Parties to the investigation are the FAA and Northwest Airlines. Both pilots denied that they fell asleep during the flight.

Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. – Fighters from two North American Aerospace Defense Command sites were put on alert when the Northwest Airlines commercial airliner that was not responding to radio calls from the Federal Aviation Administration.  Before the fighters could get airborne, FAA re-established communications with the pilots of the Northwest Airlines commercial airliner and subsequently, the NORAD fighters were ordered to stand down. NORAD does not discuss locations of alerts sites. 

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

The command is poised to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats from flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada. NORAD's mission is carried out in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners.

Interview: Reo Pratt, Northwest Airlines A320 Aircrew Program Manager (APM)
    First Officer Richard Irwin Cole
Interview:     Captain Timothy Cheney
Bill Trinka, Dispatcher
    David P. Francisco, Chief Dispatcher
Interview:      Vance Harris, Northwest Airlines Principle Operations Inspector (POI)
Statements - Flight Attendant
Statements - Minneapolis ARTCC Controller
Statements - Denver ARTCC Controller
Selected Air Route Traffic Control Center
Transmissions Overlay Report

Revocation letter Richard Cole

Revocation letter Timothy Cheney

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