This made me laugh a lot, it is absolutely hilarious:
A Northwest Airlines plane caused alarm among American aviation authorities (and the Air Force) due to an unexpected event… the pilots missed communication with air controllers for more than an hour and overshot their destination by more than 150 miles (241.4 kilometres).
The airliner (with 144 passengers on board) was supposed to land in Minneapolis; when the pilots realized they overshot the airport resumed communications with ground control and requested permission to turn around and land.
The two pilots first stated they missed the landing spot because they were involved in what they called a “heated discussion”, although some people have the theory they actually fell asleep.
Without further ado, this is the complete story as published by Sky News:
Arguing Pilots Overshoot Airport By 150 Miles
5 hours 31 mins ago
The Northwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Minneapolis, with 144 passengers on board, was cruising at 37,000 feet when it lost contact with air controllers for more than an hour.
It was 150 miles off course by the time the pilots realised the error, re-established communications and requested permission to turn around.
By this time, the US military had been alerted and had put fighter jets on stand-by.
After heading back towards Minneapolis, the pilots landed the plane safely and were greeted by airport police who boarded the plane to rule out the possibility of a hijack.
The crew faced a grilling by FBI agents, and the pilots explained they had been in “a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness”, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
Voice and flight data recorders will now be analysed to check their story.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said such a situation was unlikely to ever occur in Britain, because if pilots flew over their destination and carried on for 80 minutes, they would be likely to end up in another nation’s airspace.
“By that time you’d be receiving persistent and insistent calls from the air traffic control of that airspace,” he told Sky News Online.
“Here you file a flight plan and you stick to it, making frequent contact with the ground throughout that time.
“America’s airspace is vast so I don’t know how frequently they would have radio contact with air traffic control. I assume they would still raise warning flags though.”
Northwest is owned by Delta Air Lines, which said the pilots would not fly again until the NTSB investigation and an internal probe by Delta were complete.
Meanwhile, aviation staff on a global forum speculated that the pilots’ claim of becoming sidetracked by a work argument may have been an excuse – and that they in fact fell asleep.
One forum user wrote: “Zzzz… Of course that’s just a guess, but it seems to be the most logical theory.”
October 23th, 2009