Monday, October 26, 2009

"Can you fly this plane, and land it?"

"Surely you can't be serious!"
"I am serious...and don't call me Shirley!"

Well, here's another story where I came in halfway through the movie.

Is the term "lost situational awareness" in use in your workplace...your home...your car? Let's hope not. But when you google that term, you get googled back with 1,540,000 responses. And good old try-to-be-aware me, I had never heard of that phrase before. By comparison, if you google "lost as a ball in high weeds," there are only 120,000 responses.

If the waitperson at Happy Hooligan's Diner forgets to bring your roll, perhaps they momentarily lost situational awareness. If the tire-changing guy at Sears forgets to put the wheel covers back on your wheels when he takes the Biscayne down off the lift, it's quite likely a case of LSA.

But when the pilot and co-pilot of an airbus either A) fell asleep or B) got into such a big argument over company policy that they C) forget to land the plane and shoot past their destination by several hours, you've got D) a problem.

I'm quite certain that the airline has a policy forbidding forgetting to land when the place arrives. Sticklers for that, they are; always have been.

Here's the official report from people who usually don't involved with planes until they crash:

From the NTSB:
On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, N03274, 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 147 passengers and unknown number of crew.

At 7:58 pm central daylight time (CDT), the aircraft flew over the destination airport and continued northeast for approximately 150 miles. The MSP center controller reestablished communications with the crew at 8:14 pm and reportedly stated that the crew had become distracted and had overflown MSP, and requested to return to MSP.

According to the Federal Administration (FAA) the crew was interviewed by the FBI and airport police. The crew
stated they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness. The Safety Board is scheduling an interview with the crew.

The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) have been secured and are being
sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, DC.

Wouldn't that just just be a great way to wrap up the trip? Now watch the airline try to charge the passengers for the additional trip they got at no extra charge.

I think we need to pay a bit more attention.

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