Upclose and personal with an Airbus A320
NOTE: This blog was updated, see below.
The good news is the pilots were not sleeping on Northwest Airlines flight 188 that missed Minneapolis by 150 miles. The bad news is they still missed the airport and the real reason is not enough to save their jobs.
The Airline Biz Blog has a great run down of the complete text of the current NTSB text on the incident. Some of the bigger points:
* The Captain, 53 years old, was hired in 1985. His total flight time is about 20,000 hours, about 10,000 hours of A-320 time of which about 7,000 was as pilot in command.
* The First Officer, 54 years old, was hired in 1997. His total flight time is about 11,000 hours, and has about 5,000 hours on the A-320.
* Both pilots stated that they were not fatigued. They were both commuters, but they had a 19-hour layover in San Diego just prior to the incident flight. Both said they did not fall asleep or doze during the flight.
* Both said there was no heated argument.
* Both stated there was a distraction in the cockpit. The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from ATC even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio. Also, neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers. They were discussing the new monthly crew flight scheduling system that was now in place as a result of the merger. The discussion began at cruise altitude.
* Each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure. The first officer, who was more familiar with the procedure was providing instruction to the captain. The use of personal computers on the flight deck is prohibited by company policy.
* Neither pilot was aware of the airplane’s position until a flight attendant called about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to land and asked what was their estimated time of arrival (ETA). The captain said, at that point, he looked at his primary flight display for an ETA and realized that they had passed MSP. They made contact with ATC and were given vectors back to MSP.
* Both pilots said there are no procedures for the flight attendants to check on the pilots during flight.
It is against Northwest Airline’s policy for pilots to access laptops while in flight and these pilots have been doing their job long enough to know this. They had the radio on, but were engrossed in their conversation and laptops to notice people were concerned they lost contact and missed the airport. It is too bad that one incident like this will ruin these pilot’s careers, but with so many lives and Northwest Airline’s reputation at stake, there needs to be serious consequences for their actions.
Airline Biz Blog is reporting that Delta Air Lines (parent of Northwest Airlines) is stating the pilots will lose their jobs.Â The airline’s policy states that using laptops while in flight will lead to a pilot’s termination. Delta CEO Richard Anderson said: “Nothing is more important to Delta than safety. We are going to continue to cooperate fully with the NTSB and the FAA in their investigations.”
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Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 in flight
Last December we reported on a Go! Airlines flightÂ where the pilots fell asleep and missed the airport. Today a Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 flight missed their destination of Minneapolis by 150 miles.
The flight crew said they became engrossed in a conversation about airline policy (and honestly, who couldnâ€™t?) and lost track of their location. However, the FAA is investigating if pilot fatigue played any roll in this event.
The flight from San Diego to Minneapolis had 144 passengers onboard and none of them were aware of what happened, until the aircraft was swarmed by police once they finally arrived. The police kept all passengers onboard until they were allowed to question the flight crew.
The FAA lost contact with the aircraft while it was traveling at 37,000 feet and they notified the Air National Guard, who then put two fighter jets on alert. They were never given the order to take off.
Andrea Allmon, a passenger who had been traveling from San Diego on business, stated, “When I do my job, I do my job. These guys are supposed to be paying attention to the flight. The safety of the passengers should be first and foremost. (It’s) unbelievable to me that they weren’t paying attention. Just not paying attention.”
She is right. No matter if they were awake having a heated debate, they should have still been paying attention to their flight and of course the radio. The FAA is investigating the incident and the two pilots have been suspended from flying. Hopefully it is not found that the pilots fell asleep during flight.
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Jet Aiways Boeing 777-300 Taking off
Jet Airways, which is based in Mumbai, India and serves over 400 flights and 65 destinations, has cancelled more than 250 flights due to a standoff between pilots and the airline’s management. 432 of the 760 pilots with the airline are protesting four of their colleagues being fired. Reuters is reporting that the four pilots were sacked for trying to start a pilot’s union, the National Aviators’ Guild (NAG). However, the airlines says they were fired for “indiscipline.”
The pilots are demanding that the four pilotsÂ be re-hired before they stop protesting and the airline is demanding the dismantling of the NAG. The airline has scheduled talks for Friday in an attempt to end the stand-off. Hopefully the issue can be resolved shortly, since the continuing strike and bad press will continue to plague the airline. Image: MitRebuad
Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300 (N589HA) at Kahului Airport on Maui
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the pilotsÂ of Hawaiian Airlines, startedÂ “informational picketing” today at the interisland terminal of the Honolulu International Airport. Earlier in the month the ALPA opened up a “strategic preparedness center,” near the airport to help coordinate phones and picketing, if no deal can be reached with the airline. This follows two years of unsuccessful talks between the two sides, that seems it might lead to the pilot’s going on strike.
The ALPA stated, “while progress was made, Hawaiian management still insists that any salary increases over 1%, or other contract gains, be paid for by pilots making offsetting concessions elsewhere in the contract. Based on the airline’s outstanding financial performance and the record bonuses management received last year, this lack of substantial movement has forced the pilots to call for a strike authorization vote.”
They have a valid point with profit changes. The current contract was negotiated in 2005 before Hawaiian emerged from bankruptcy and now the airline is making a profit. However, the airline business has volatile ups and downs. One quarter an airline can be in the black, making profit, the next, deep in the red and talking about bankruptcy. If an airline is going to protect itself for the bad times, then yes, it means there will be surplus in the good times.
The ALPA is seeking a 17% salary increase over four years, plus a 2.5% addition to the pension plan for pilots less than 50 years of age. The ALPA states the airline is offering only a 1% increase each year for four years, with possible additional increases inÂ exchange for concessions in other areas.
Hawaiian Airlines’ CEO, Mark Dunkerley, states that the union is “mischaracterizing” the airlines offer and that a strike is not “imminent.” Dunkerley points out that the airline has offered its pilots a 20% increase over six years with profit sharing, for the ability to modify their bidding rules for new routes, allowing the airline to become more competitive.
The back and forth bickering sounds like a typical contract standstill. There are still quite a few steps before the pilots could strike. The union members need to authorize a strike and the government would also need to give the go ahead. Sadly, the people that lose out the most are the passengers, especially those that might be looking for a nice, much needed vacation to Hawaii. Image: CruisAir