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NWA fallout: 'Distracted pilots' emerge as new safety concern

DieselDragRacer

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NWA fallout: 'Distracted pilots' emerge as new safety concern




"Distracted drivers have become a hazard on roads. Has the problem spread to airliner cockpits?" That's from The New York Times, one of numerous media outlets advancing the storyline on the wayward Northwest flight that overshot its Minneapolis/St. Paul destination by nearly 150 miles before its pilots responded to attmepts to contact them. CNN is among those picking up the same theme, writing "the challenges inherent in getting a 162,000-pound aircraft off the ground and landing it safely are pretty obvious to most observers. But at cruising altitude, above 10,000 feet, pilots face a different critical challenge: staying focused."


RELATED LINK:Delta CEO: 'Clear violation' involved in wayward flight
"There's so much automation in the cockpit that, literally, an aircraft taking off from Los Angeles and landing in New York can have very little attendance by the crew," aviation consultant Michael Goldfarb tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "That automation has created a problem of boredom in the cockpit," Montagne adds.


However, the Times notes that Salon.com columnist Patrick Smith argues in his Ask the Pilot column that the automation argument was "grossly oversimplifying things." Smith says "even the most routine and 'automated' flight remains subject to countless contingencies and a tremendous amount of input from the crew,” going on to say the NWA over-flight incident amounts to a "freak event."


Of course, not everyone is buying the pilots' explanation that they overshot Minnesota after becoming engrossed on their personal laptops in an attempt to figure out a new company pilot scheduling system. That, the pilots say, left them oblivious to attempts to contact them for more then 90 minutes. The Star-Ledger of Newark writes "the pilots insist they didn’t fall asleep as some experts have theorized. They were awake, they told investigators; they simply weren’t paying attention, so they didn’t answer all those frantic calls from air traffic controllers, other pilots and their airline."


There are other factors under review, as well. The Wall Street Journal reports "investigators are looking into missteps by air-traffic controllers that may have contributed to the loss of radio contact with Northwest Flight 188 for more than an hour, according to people familiar with the matter." The Journal says "now, the National Transportation Safety Board has expanded its probe to look at apparent safety lapses by controllers, these people said. Investigators have scheduled interviews with controllers for (this) week." Stay tuned …
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/item.aspx?type=blog&ak=620000809.blog
 

Ex737Driver

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Sorry, missed that. What did you say?
 

Vastly Underemp

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ZAPHOROUS

What you say when you think you may have missed a radio call.....
 

GINCHBLASTER

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UGH. I wish these guys would do us all a favor and just admit they were sleeping. It would save us a lot of bullsh!t.
 

StopNTSing

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Can any NWA guys confirm or deny that your A320s do not have an audible chime when an ACARS message is received? If so, that seems to me the only corrective action necessary here.
 

hockeypilot44

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Can any NWA guys confirm or deny that your A320s do not have an audible chime when an ACARS message is received? If so, that seems to me the only corrective action necessary here.

No audible chime for ACARS. Just flashing "Company Message" on ECAM.
 

StopNTSing

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No audible chime for ACARS. Just flashing "Company Message" on ECAM.

Thanks. Well there you have it. Wouldn't it be nice if the Feds would just issue an AD for the frogjet, but I guess it is better politics for them to destroy a couple of careers instead. :rolleyes:
 

BID

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UGH. I wish these guys would do us all a favor and just admit they were sleeping. It would save us a lot of bullsh!t.

I know! Boy these guys really blew it. Makes us all look bad. Knuckle heads.
 

crj567

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Thanks. Well there you have it. Wouldn't it be nice if the Feds would just issue an AD for the frogjet, but I guess it is better politics for them to destroy a couple of careers instead. :rolleyes:

Yep- Good point... I think everyone is mighty surprised that the ACARS doesn't make sound on this plane... Even old 727s has a loud "SEL CALL" aural alert. What the hell?

-The frenchies always have to figure out some way to be different.
 

cjdriver

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If anyone was interested in proving what happened, they could examine the PC's they were supposedly using and determine if they were being used during the timeframe in question. Just saying....
 

another cfii

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If anyone was interested in proving what happened, they could examine the PC's they were supposedly using and determine if they were being used during the timeframe in question. Just saying....

It's quite possible, since everytime you access a file, it'll leave a timestamp. But since the laptops haven't been admitted as federal evidence, maybe it'll be hard to prove anything. But this whole thing is not becomes moot, as the flying public all think we're now worse than taxi drivers in NYC.
 

Pervis

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So there are no aural sounds at all, like Vertical Track Angle at TOD, or cange in vertical or lateral modes like LNAV to HGD after they overshot their last fix?
 

Floatplane

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So there are no aural sounds at all, like Vertical Track Angle at TOD, or cange in vertical or lateral modes like LNAV to HGD after they overshot their last fix?


Actually yes there are! When you have a mode degradation, i.e. nav to hdg, you get a tripple click aural warning. I'm not sure they would have heard this while watching their movie!
 

Vegaspilot99

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ACARS on the Q400 is the same way. You only get a sound if you request an D-ATIS. Company messages received are quiet...just a flashing MSG on the PFD/MFD.
 

ExAF

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ACARS on the Q400 is the same way. You only get a sound if you request an D-ATIS. Company messages received are quiet...just a flashing MSG on the PFD/MFD.
Nobody asked if there was a sound on the Q400. WHOGAS.
 

GogglesPisano

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enough
Too bad no one, not even their fellow pilots, can wait for a completed investigation before casting stones.
 
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