Arguing pilots fly 150 miles past runway

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Original poster
Feb 19, 2005
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"Arguing" pilots fly 150 miles past runway ... yeah right. First it was "distracted", then it was "they were having a conversation on airline policy", now it's "arguing".

We put our lives in these pilot's hands every day, if something such as some "argument" can distract them more than city lights then I'm rather surprised.

The article also says no one noticed the fight had taken a detour. While this is probably true, I think I'd notice if my flight was to land at 8 pm, there was no decent, and an 1h 15m later I was on the ground. I think I'd notice if my flight wasn't landing on time.
 

swiftaw

macrumors 603
Jan 31, 2005
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Omaha, NE, USA
The rumor is that the were actually asleep, since there was no radio contact with them for several hours. (Air traffic control even contacted the airlines head office to see if them could contact the plane via other methods).
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
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The article also says no one noticed the fight had taken a detour. While this is probably true, I think I'd notice if my flight was to land at 8 pm, there was no decent, and an 1h 15m later I was on the ground. I think I'd notice if my flight wasn't landing on time.
Hah!

Reminds me of a scene from The Quiet Man. :p
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
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Milwaukee, WI
Distracted by a heated discussion over airline policy to the point that they ignored the control tower trying to "hand off" their flight to another jurisdiction? I don't think so. The voice recorder will tell all.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
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Most likely they fell asleep. This kind of mistake is almost impossible otherwise. Like Gregg2 mentioned, the CVR will reveal what really happened.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Original poster
Feb 19, 2005
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Most likely they fell asleep. This kind of mistake is almost impossible otherwise. Like Gregg2 mentioned, the CVR will reveal what really happened.
So the CVR records everything? I mean, everything? So if there is silence then these morons going on record saying it was a conversation that distracted them are toast as well?

I ask because only seeing cockpits I can't imagine allowing yourself to become so distracted by anything that it would result in you missing a landing. It would seem that a seasoned pilot would at least know better and I don't think there are too many newbie pilots working for NWA/Delta.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
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So the CVR records everything? I mean, everything? So if there is silence then these morons going on record saying it was a conversation that distracted them are toast as well?
Basically, yes. That's what's bothering me - I can't believe they'd go on record and say one thing if they know the CVR will show something else. And you're right about the rest. That's what makes me think they simply fell asleep. It's happened before - Frontier had an Airbus crew fall asleep a few years back coming into Denver. Mesa (Go! Jets) overflew Hawaii not too long ago.

Fatigue is definitely a problem in the industry, but nobody has stepped up to the plate to really fix it.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
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o if there is silence then these morons going on record saying it was a conversation that distracted them are toast as well?
I think that their loud snoring may indicate otherwise. :eek:

Basically, yes. That's what's bothering me - I can't believe they'd go on record and say one thing if they know the CVR will show something else. And you're right about the rest. That's what makes me think they simply fell asleep. It's happened before - Frontier had an Airbus crew fall asleep a few years back coming into Denver. Mesa (Go! Jets) overflew Hawaii not too long ago.

Fatigue is definitely a problem in the industry, but nobody has stepped up to the plate to really fix it.
What is the recording limit for a CVR. Thirty minutes right. So we may never know what happened during that time frame.

As far as falling asleep in the cockpit. It happens ... unfortunately.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
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What is the recording limit for a CVR. Thirty minutes right. So we may never know what happened during that time frame.
The reg states at least 30 minutes, but at least with the CVRs I've been familiar with, the ambient channels will record the last hour. Of course I have no idea what this particular CVR will do, so you may be right.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
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The reg states at least 30 minutes, but at least with the CVRs I've been familiar with, the ambient channels will record the last hour. Of course I have no idea what this particular CVR will do, so you may be right.
So if they fly an hour past MSP, by the time they turn around and land, the last hour recorded will be the hour after they realized their mistake. Maybe we'll hear them making up a story though.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
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So if they fly an hour past MSP, by the time they turn around and land, the last hour recorded will be the hour after they realized their mistake. Maybe we'll hear them making up a story though.
It's possible. They didn't fly an hour past - they were out of communication for an hour. But yeah, sushi's point still stands - with the taxi time included, it could have easily been more than 30 minutes from the point they turned around to the point they arrived at the gate.
 

sushi

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Jul 19, 2002
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It's possible. They didn't fly an hour past - they were out of communication for an hour. But yeah, sushi's point still stands - with the taxi time included, it could have easily been more than 30 minutes from the point they turned around to the point they arrived at the gate.
So we may never know what really happened unless the investigators get the pilots to stumble over their agreed excuse/reason. :(

About 20 years ago, there was a push to have longer tapes "recordings" if you will since 30 minutes is not always long enough. I forget the reason, but that idea didn't get traction and we still have 30 minutes.

Fatigue in the cockpit can definitely happen. Been there done that. I will say a little chewing tobacco stuck in the bottom of your eyelid will keep them open ... usually. Unless you are really tired.
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
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About 20 years ago, there was a push to have longer tapes "recordings" if you will since 30 minutes is not always long enough. I forget the reason, but that idea didn't get traction and we still have 30 minutes.
I was just looking at my wife's FAR/FC, specifically 121.359, and the good news is that the FAA will mandate that it be two hours by April 7, 2012. That doesn't help here, but at least they're moving forward.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
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Given how cheap storage is nowadays, couldn't they just record the entire flight, even the long 18 hour ones? It seems like that would make the most sense. 2 hours might not even be enough for some incidents depending on when the problem starts
 

MooneyFlyer

macrumors 65816
Nov 18, 2007
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I was just looking at my wife's FAR/FC, specifically 121.359, and the good news is that the FAA will mandate that it be two hours by April 7, 2012. That doesn't help here, but at least they're moving forward.
I've heard taht the Airbus's already carry the solid state cockpit flight recorders in many of their planes (if not all). They should have the full two hours.

At night it is pretty easy to see major cities go by. Unless these guys were physically wrestling I'm having a hard time understanding how an argument could keep them out of reasonable situational awareness for that long. I'm a pilot, I can see how things like this can happen, but I am hugely skeptical of this story.