Update 1 – Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 overflies Minneapolis - AeroSpace News
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Update 1 – Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 overflies Minneapolis

In its continuing investigation of an Airbus A320 that

overflew the Minneapolis-St Paul International/Wold-

Chamberlain Airport (MSP), the National Transportation

Safety Board has developed the following factual

information:

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm

mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, operating as

Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no

radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet. The flight was

operating as a Part 121 flight from San Diego International

Airport, San Diego, California (SAN) to MSP with 144

passengers, 2 pilots and 3 flight attendants.

Both pilots were interviewed separately by NTSB

investigators yesterday in Minnesota. The following is an

overview of the interviews:



* The first officer and the captain were interviewed for

over 5 hours combined.

* 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 said they had never had an accident,

incident or violation.

* Neither pilot reported any ongoing medical conditions.

* 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.

* Both said they lost track of time.

* 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.

* At cruise altitude - the pilots stated they were using

cockpit speakers to listen to radio communications,

not their headsets.

* When asked by ATC what the problem was, they replied

"just cockpit distraction" and "dealing with company

issues".

* Both pilots said there are no procedures for the

flight attendants to check on the pilots during

flight.

The Safety Board is interviewing the flight attendants and

other company personnel today. Air traffic control

communications have been obtained and are being analyzed.

Preliminary data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR)

revealed the following:

* The CVR recording was 1/2 hour in length.

* The cockpit area microphone channel was not working

during this recording. However, the crew's headset

microphones recorded their conversations.

* The CVR recording began during final approach, and

continued while the aircraft was at the gate.

* During the hours immediately following the incident

flight, routine aircraft maintenance provided power to

the CVR for a few minutes on several occasions, likely

recording over several minutes of the flight.

The FDR captured the entire flight which contained several

hundred aircraft parameters including the portion of flight

where there was no radio communication from the flight

crew. Investigators are examining the recorded parameters

to see if any information regarding crew activity during the

portion of flight where radio contact was lost can be

obtained.

Source - NTSB

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