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Northwest's Wandering Crew May Fly Again

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The two Northwest Airlines pilots who flew off course for over an hour last October while working on their laptops have lost all their FAA certificates, but now they have a chance to get them back. Capt. Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole reached an agreement with the FAA on Monday that will allow them to apply for new certificates as soon as Aug. 29. Under the deal, they agreed to drop their appeals of the FAA's revocation "in the interest of avoiding further publicity." The agreement requires the pilots to re-take all of their knowledge and practical tests, and allows them to begin immediately logging time toward their ratings. The pilots did not admit to any wrongdoing. Officials at Delta Air Lines, which has taken over Northwest, said the two pilots remain suspended with pay until the airline completes its own investigation.

Northwest Airlines Flight 188 went NORDO (no radio communications) for 77 minutes while flying from San Diego to Minneapolis on Oct. 21. The flight overflew Minneapolis by more than 100 miles before re-establishing radio contact with air traffic controllers and landing at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. There were no injuries to the passengers and crew aboard. The NTSB investigation is ongoing.

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Click here to listen to AVweb's edited version of the ATC audio tapes during the flight.

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