Pilots Claim The Were Distracted, NTSB Asks If They Possibly
Were Asleep At The Wheel
A Northwest flight from San Diego
to Minneapolis overshot its destination by 150 miles Wednesday
evening, prompting the NTSB to investigate a number of
possibilities, including whether the cockpit crew fell asleep
during the flight. While not ruling it out, spokesman Keith
Holloway called that idea "speculative."
ATC was unable to contact the aircraft for more than an hour as
it approached the airport at FL370. There had been no radio contact
with the A320 carrying 147 passengers since the flight was handed
off at Denver with no radio contact.
In a news release, the NTSB stated "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.
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 and flight data recorders have been
secured and are being sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington,
CNN reports that an NSTB spokesperson raised the possibility
that the crew may have fallen asleep during the
flight. Officials of Delta Airlines, Northwest's parent
company, say they are cooperating fully with the investigation.