Feds Yank Licenses From Overflown Pilots

Northwest jet flew 150 miles past destination last week

By Eric S. Page
|  Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009  |  Updated 3:30 PM PDT
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The Eagle Has Not Landed

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Extra fuel is a good thing, as this radar flight-tracking map shows.

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The Eagle Has Not Landed

San Diego passengers had 300 extra miles to put their trays in an upright position.
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The two men at the controls of a flight that went 150 miles too far have been grounded.

Federal regulators have revoked the licenses of the two Northwest Airlines pilots who took off from San Diego last week, then flew past their Minneapolis destination by 150 miles last week.
     
The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday that the pilots had violated numerous regulations, including failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.

The jet left San Diego on Wednesday afternoon and was scheduled to land in the evening in Minneapolis but logged at least an extra 300 miles before landing.
     
The pilots -- first officer Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., and captain Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash. -- told investigators they lost track of time and place while working on their laptop computers.
     
The pilots' union had cautioned against a rush to judgment. The pilots, who said they had no previous accidents or safety incidents, have 10 days to appeal the emergency revocation.

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