Northwest Airlines planes.

The licenses of two Northwest airlines pilots were revoked by the FAA which accused them of flying "carelessly and recklessly." (Jim Mone / AP Photo/File)

By Frank James

The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the pilot licenses of the two Northwest pilots who have admitted to being distracted in the cockpit by their laptop computers and letting their plane fly 150 miles past their intended destination of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Here's the FAA press release:

The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination airport on October 21, 2009 while operating Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis.
The pilots were out of contact with air traffic controllers for an extended period of time and told federal investigators that they were distracted by a conversation. Air traffic controllers and airline officials repeatedly tried to reach them through radio and data contact, without success.
The emergency revocations cite violations of a number of Federal Aviation Regulations. Those include failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.
The revocations are effective immediately. The pilots have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocations to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilots are Capt. Timothy B. Cheney, 53, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and First Officer Richard I. Cole, 54, of Salem, Ore.

As we reported here in The Two-Way yesterday, investigators from the National Safety Transportation Board separately interviewed the pilots who admitted that they were on their personal laptops discussing the new scheduling system they had to use as a result of Northwest's acquisition by Delta Airlines.

Delta said in a statement yesterday that pilots using their personal laptops in the cockpit while operating a flight is a firing offense. By making the statement, the company appeared to leave little doubt that it planned to harshly sanction the pilots.

categories: Travel

4:50 - October 27, 2009