DL pilots expected keep their jobs

FBN0223

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By ANDY PASZTOR

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 andy.pasztor@wsj.com
 

PeanuckleCRJ

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I believe the DAL60 guys are all back on the line.
 

Erlanger

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The penalty is proportionally based on the amount of media sensationalism it creates and whether it makes it to late night comedy.
 

PeanuckleCRJ

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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.
 

waveflyer

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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
 

PeanuckleCRJ

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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
Absolutely agreed.
 

waveflyer

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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.
 

imacdog

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Waveflyer, when was the last time you ignored radio calls for over an hour and flew past your destination by a state?
 

no1pilot2000

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Back to the basics

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

Ad Lib

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FWIW - Sleeping is biological and not always intentional. IMHO get surgery for Sleep Apnea and get back to work. But it is hard to accidentally pull out the laptop.

Not that any of us here know what happened.
 

scarlet

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Thought Delta had the best pilots in the world. Maybe now they can drop the attitude !!
 

Flightdawg

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FWIW - Sleeping is biological and not always intentional. IMHO get surgery for Sleep Apnea and get back to work. But it is hard to accidentally pull out the laptop.
Agreed about biological and not always intentional. Regarding Apnea, high body weight can be a factor too.

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
Agreed on stones. I'm sure they will get their jobs back. It's a matter of how long it will take. Six months? A year? A long to time to be on the beach without a pay check in this economy.
 

Abernathy

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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.
You don't really believe they were awake when they overflew their destination and were out of radio contact for an incredibly long time, do you?
 

GOULET!

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Waveflyer, when was the last time you ignored radio calls for over an hour and flew past your destination by a state?

When is the last time you landed a 767 on a 75 foot wide taxiway? No less dangerous than what the NW guys did.
 

whymeworry?

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Thought Delta had the best pilots in the world. Maybe now they can drop the attitude !!
HA! So true. History is littered with examples of pilots from various airlines who copped the 'tude only to be humbled at a later point in their careers.

When CAL was in the news earlier this year, all my DAL buddies went out of their way to bust my balls about it every chance they had. Claiming that CAL was 2nd rate, etc. I've even seen DAL pilots on here actually say that CAL is a 2nd tier carrier. We may have a pathetic contract right now but that doesn't make us 2nd rate. Besides, in some for or fashion, everyone has a shty contract right now, save for FDX, SWA and UPS.

When AQ was in their heyday, my buddies there use to chastize me for busting my hump flying into EWR in the wx while they enjoyed being home every night.

When UAL was the place to be, my buddies there use to ask me why I worked for a "scab airline" and to "get yer sht in and come over to United."

We all need to remain humble throughout our careers. Pick your pot-shots carefully. I have a sense of humor just as elastic as the next guy but I never once beat my buddies up once their airlines started having troubles. If anything, I worked hard and went out of my way to help them find jobs.

In fact, just the other day I contacted some NJT buddies, unsolicited, offering to help them with getting an overseas gig.

Nobody is a skygod in avitaion. You either get through the airline interview or your don't. Some of us had a good day that day of the interview, some didn't. Eventually you get hired by someone and you're married to your airline no matter the rough road ahead.

CAL was the media target earlier this year, DAL/ NW is now. Someone will be next. This is an imperfect businees.

The reality is ALPA-N should get off its proverbial a$$ and start balancing out the media onslaught. Why is it that when there is a major avitiaon incident CNN calls up some private pilot/ CFI as an "aviation expert" yet never calls line-flying ALPA representitive? ALPA ought to have a trained team of current line-flying pilots ready to set the media (and the public) straight on the realities facing this profession. In today's hyper-charged news environment we cannot afford to do otherwise.
 
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waveflyer

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blah, blah, blah ... excluded from ASAP is because they intentionally were violating a rule ... blah, blah, blah
Have you ever intentionally violated a rule?

This is my point- too much was made of intentionally violating one of our more ridiculous rules. (Which by the way- are we sure they did? if it was company material- who cares if it's on a laptop or in a manual or bulletin? (assuming they weren't asleep and the story is true))

The focus should be simply on the not monitoring the progress of the flight- and the overflight, NOT on the excuse why. I personally think that the restriction on reading materials not related to flight should be removed. Dont' encourage the practice- but don't forbid it- 90% of us break that rule routinely- and there is a good argument for doing it. Keeping your mind active is a good thing while flying- you just can't get complacent and forget that your primary attention should be on the airplane-- just like when you're getting ATIS or Performance or doing revisions or reading bulletins or anything else-- We prioritize and multi-task all day- if i can squeeze in a sudoku or a magazine article- good. At least i'm not asleep or staring blankly out the side window.
 
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