Northwest Flight 188 Pilots Blame ATC
The Northwest Airlines pilots whose FAA certificates were revoked after they overflew their intended destination with a planeload of passengers have appealed to the NTSB for a review, and both cited failures by air traffic control as a "causal or contributing cause" in the incident. Capt. Timothy Cheney, 54, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and First Officer Richard Cole, 54, of Salem, Ore., stated in documents filed with the NTSB that controllers didn't follow rules and practices as described in the FAA's ATC manual and failed to coordinate effectively with Northwest dispatchers. National Air Traffic Controllers Association spokesman Doug Church told the Associated Press he couldn't comment on the matter because NATCA is a party to the ongoing NTSB investigation. Cole also said he shouldn't take a full share of the blame since he relied on Cheney to take responsibility for the flight as the flying pilot. Both pilots said that since they filed reports about the incident with NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, sanctions should be waived.
The pilots were flying an Airbus A320 on Oct. 21 when they stopped responding to radio calls and text messages, and overflew their destination by about 150 miles before turning around and landing safely. They said they were working on their laptops and got distracted. No date has been set for their hearing, which will be held before an NTSB judge, but both pilots asked for 90 days to prepare.
- Click here to read the full text of both pilots' appeals. (PDF)
- Click here for the FAA's emergency revocation letter, which includes the original charges against both pilots. (PDF)
- The FAA has released its recordings of the ATC exchanges concerning Northwest Flight 188. Click here to listen online to AVweb's edited highlights of those tapes.