Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

DL pilots expected keep their jobs

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2007

Two Delta Air Lines Inc. pilots who mistakenly landed a jetliner filled with 182 passengers on a taxiway at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport last month are expected to avoid punishment, according to people familiar with the matter.

The weather and visibility were both good on Oct. 19, when the Delta pilots mistakenly landed their widebody Boeing 767 jet on a taxiway instead of a parallel runway. Despite the error, both pilots are expected to keep their licenses and their jobs, these people said. The pilots are currently suspended, but Delta intends to retrain them and return them to flight status.

The taxiway incident happened just several days before a pair of pilots flying for Delta's Northwest Airlines unit lost radio contact with air-traffic controllers for more than an hour and cruised past their airport destination. The Northwest pilots – whose flight sparked a broader debate about cockpit distractions -- had their licenses revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration. They are appealing that decision. Delta doesn't intend to reinstate the Northwest pilots under any circumstances, according to industry officials. Delta press officials have declined to comment.

The stark contrast in the treatment of the two cockpit crews has angered pilot union leaders and illustrates different FAA enforcement standards. Nobody was hurt in either incident, and neither plane was damaged. Both crews quickly filed voluntary reports alerting airline officials and regulators about their safety lapses, and were suspended from flying duties.

But the similarities end there. Union leaders argue the FAA punished the Northwest pilots prematurely by revoking their licenses before all the facts had been gathered, and without regard to established procedures to investigate safety incidents. The FAA, on the other hand, contends the Northwest pilots acted recklessly, in clear violation of federal safety rules and standards.

By contrast, the FAA has concluded the Delta pilots involved in the Atlanta incident made an inadvertent mistake. At this point, the agency is focused on understanding the sequence of events and figuring out how to prevent them in the future.

According to investigators and others familiar with the taxiway landing, the Boeing 767 was approaching Atlanta before dawn, after a 10-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro in calm winds and 10-mile visibility. A senior pilot became ill during an earlier part of the trip was moved to the cabin and the crew declared a medical emergency. On approach, controllers gave the pilots several different landing instructions, according to people familiar with the details. As the plane continued to descend toward the airport, the pilots requested a runway change so they would be able to taxi as quickly as possible to the terminal.

Delta Flight 60 was cleared to land on a runway typically used for takeoffs, and a navigation aid wasn't operating. The approach lights intended to help pilots identify and line up with the strip weren't turned on.

The jet landed on a 75-foot wide taxiway, located about 400 feet north of the intended runway. The runway is 150 feet wide and has different colored lights than the taxiway.

Write to Andy Pasztor at [email protected]
The penalty is proportionally based on the amount of media sensationalism it creates and whether it makes it to late night comedy.
The penalty is proportionally based on the amount of media sensationalism it creates and whether it makes it to late night comedy.

The reason why the NWA188 guys were excluded from ASAP is because they intentionally were violating a rule.

Talking to the media, the fed agencies running their mouths to the media, and the other issues certainly didn't help their situation.

They may get their jobs back but it's going to be a fight.
I hope they do. They messed up- but it's not worth their careers. And none of us can throw stones in the vague "distractions in the flight deck" house. JMO
Too much has been made of "distractions". So it's ok to do revisions, read boring legalese FOMs, fill out logbooks, etc- but not ok if you distract yourself any other way. Sitting at attention blindly staring at screens will not make any human a better pilot- this job has always been multi-tasking. The problem was the flight crew not keeping up with their progress- but a USA today or men's health makes me a more alert pilot- not less. Just glance down every few minutes and you're fine-and you're mind will be much more active and awake.
Waveflyer, when was the last time you ignored radio calls for over an hour and flew past your destination by a state?
Back to the basics

I hope these pilots learned their lesson. Like an old Roy Rogers song goes..."Back in the cockpit again".

Latest posts

Latest resources