Northwest Flight 188 Fallout Brings Changes To FAA


FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a news conference Friday that the FAA had not contacted NORAD soon enough regarding wayward Northwest Flight 188 — he also said things would change. Flight 188 last month went silent and overshot MSP by 150 miles, but the FAA did not notify other agencies about the loss of radio contact until one hour and nine minutes after last contact. In a news release, the FAA announced it “has taken steps to ensure more accurate preliminary information about air traffic events can be provided to top officials more quickly.” As part of that push, the FAA will be updating its training and procedures for how controllers handle aircraft that have gone NORDO. The FAA says new incident notification procedures will be adopted by the end of the month and it will review changes to training and procedures by the end of January, 2010. The agency noted specific goals.

Changes target three areas. First it aims to ensure that air traffic controllers are armed with the knowledge, ability and tools to identify those aircraft that are in communication with ATC and when those communications have been interrupted. Second, it aims to ensure that coordination with other agencies regarding loss of communications is handled effectively and accurately. Third, the FAA aims to improve the accuracy of its preliminary investigations and the timely dissemination of information, internally.