UPDATED 2 – Mystery of airliner that overshot its destination


Key Archive
Key Archive

Various press reports are speculating on why Northwest Airlines’ Flight 188 overshot its destination of Minneapolis by over 150 miles.

October 23: Various press reports are speculating on why Northwest Airlines’ Flight 188 overshot its destination of Minneapolis by over 150 miles. Both pilots have insisted they weren’t asleep, but have apparently said they were in a “heated discussion” that led to the overshoot.
Air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilots for almost an hour, but the aircraft (an Airbus A320) was over the neighbouring state of Wisconsin before they turned around. Because it was feared that the aircraft had been hijacked, two Air National Guard fighters were put on high alert.
October 27: The US National Transportation Safety Board interviewed the pilots on Monday October 26, and the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been sent to the board’s laboratory in Washington, DC. The pilots of Northwest Flight 188, Captain Timothy Cheney and first officer Richard Cole, remain suspended by parent company Delta Airlines until the NTSB investigation is completed.
The NTSB has issued a public release, saying that the pilots have admitted to being distracted due to discussing airline crew flight scheduling procedures on their personal laptops. Delta has said that “using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots’ command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline’s flight deck policies and violations of that policy will result in termination.”
October 28: The Federal Aviation Authority has revoked the licenses of the two Nortwest pilots. They have ten days to appeal.