Skip to comments.F-16s 'Prepared' to Shoot Down Errant Northwest Flight
Posted on 10/28/2009 11:06:04 AM PDT by gandalftb
Armed F-16s from the Wisconsin Air National Guard were on the runway and could have shot down the errant Northwest flight, officials said today.
"As a force of last resort, NORAD is always prepared to do whatever is necessary," NORAD spokesperson Mike Kucharek told ABCNews.com.
Air traffic controllers feared Northwest Flight 188, might have been hijacked after its pilots failed to respond to radio transmissions for more than an hour.
Air traffic controllers reported the pilots initially failed to respond to commands as it passed from the air space controlled by the FAA Denver Center into the area controlled by the Minneapolis Center.
The concern grew as the pilots ignored a command from the Minneapolis approach controllers to begin a descent for landing.
The National Counterterrorism Center in Washington was notified, and authorities began to scrutinize the passenger list, according to Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan of ABC News.
Once contact was re-established, after an hour and 18 minutes of silence, the controllers ordered the pilots to carry out a series of zigzag maneuvers in order to prove "the pilots had command and control of the craft,".
Controllers tried used a variety of FAA frequencies, the Northwest private frequency and texting services to contact the plane.
The pilots finally responded when contacted by the Denver controllers-an indication they had not changed frequencies on their radios when they passed into the Minneapolis air space.
The pilots had to be asked three times if they were okay and had control of the plane.
The pilots said they had a "cockpit distraction" and were having a "heated discussion" about a "company issue,".
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...
They had to intentionally ignore the radio calls, unless they were, in fact, incapacitated.....
Time for cockpit cameras?
Should there be a way for the cockpit door to be opened by the Flight Attendants?
Had I been on that flight, watching us fly over MN and well beyond...not sure I'd have sat quietly, not for 78 minutes....Flight 93 Militia needed?
No need for that - their licenses have already been revoked.
My thought is that the pilots were distracted by pornography.
wonder if we will ever know exactly what was going on. terrible PR for northwest, but they may not be able to squelch it.
Not sure how well they would shoot down the NW flight, when the “interceptors” were still on the ground.
What were they waiting on, a building to disappear?
Excuse no 1-your fired!
excuse no 2 your fired!
excuse etc. etc.
The FAA timeline shows that NW188 was out of contact with ATC for 51 minutes, from 19:24:16 CDT to approximately 20:14 CDT.
It also makes clear that NW188 last contacted Denver center 91 minutes prior to 20:14 CDT, or 18:43 CDT, which means they flew in Denver Center's airspace for 41 minutes without Denver trying to contact them either.
They missed at least 2 radio calls from Denver Center.
NW Dispatch made 8 attempts to contact them, beginning @ 19:32 CDT (42 minutes before NW188 contacted Minneapolis Center).
Or each other... Hey, stranger things have happened.....
One of the most sensationalistic headlines I've read in quite some time. They were "prepared" to shoot something down, something traveling at 600 MPH and at 30K feet, while they sat still on a tarmac? Ridiculous.
They were "prepared" to take off, intercept the aircraft and then make a threat assessment. They were no closer to "shooting down an aircraft", than I am of dating Cindy Crawford.
maybe they were looking for a radical course change that never occurred.
My guess is that they were either both sound asleep, or perhaps they were playing video games and were wearing headphones to keep the noise down.
Porno, or whatever program they claim to be using, doesn't keep people from hearing radio calls.
Are you saying Cindy is single these days?
These pilots story went from discussing airline policy to being on their laptops.
I wonder why was the seriousness of this not originally reported?
After that Egypt air pilot slammed the controls down to crash into the Atlantic and the black box had audio of him muttering “Allah Akbar” while the other pilot was trying to get him off the controls...
Yes, they need to have someone on board who can reach the cockpit. Armed preferrably. A bullet in the head would have allowed him to let go of the controls.
Something is really fishy about this though. I know I can get lost in internet surfing sometimes, but wouldn’t the flight crew page the pilots after say 15 minutes of passing the landing time? It would seem SOMEONE on that plane would have said, “Hey, what is up and why are we an hour late to land?” and brought the pilots out of their ‘distraction’.
Some of the hype surrounding this flight is just silly.
At the speeds these aircraft fly at today, how long does it take to go 150 miles?
When you pass the descent point for your destination the Airbus gives you a tone and CAS message along with VNAV bars on your display.
When you pass your last fix in the FMS (their destination in this case) the Airbus autopilot goes into heading hold with a tone and multiple CAS messages your big NAV display.
No way that physically alert pilots could miss those signals and tones. They are intentionally loud enough to wake a sleeping pilot......
The FAA already thought about this scenario years ago.
She lives in Hollywood. Since when did marriage keep anyone from dating there?
It's not her marriage vows that keep her from dating me - it's my oldness, my poorness and my unhipness.
No, because if it can be opened by a flight attendant, it can be opened by a flight attendant with a hijacker's knife at her throat.
Pilots should be subject to prison sentences for stuff like what these two did. That's more likely than anything else to put a stop to this sort of thing.
not to worry, Al Franken is on the case proposing new legislation.(sarc)
my bet is they were updating fantasy football picks.
Hype? They landed with 20 minutes of fuel left.
Where would you go on a first date with Cindy?
I wonder if all the flight attendants were accounted for and if there were any new members of the Mile High Club initiated on that flight.
Don’t forget your looks.
How about a flight attendant asking for access and if no confirmation from the flight crew and an OK from air traffic control, a small door within the cockpit door could open so the Flight attendant could at least see inside and talk to the flight crew.
No, my wife tells me a still look great ;)
Haven’t seen any indication that any passengers showed any concern or were aware of where they were. If its cloudy, it’s pretty hard to tell where you are. However if it is clear, someone should notice that things aren’t right by looking out of the window. I always appreciate the crew telling us where we are, but I guess that is too much information for a lot of people.
“One of the most sensationalistic headlines I’ve read in quite some time.”
I agree, plus their not going to shoot down a plane just because it has been hijacked. It would have to be a threat to something on the ground.
About 15/20 minutes...if you add in descent time though it’s actually quite a long time not to have “situational awareness”
To a good divorce attorney. Lord knows, I'd need it.
All of those carry the same risk. Hijackers can make a flight attendant tell air traffic controllers anything. What would work is an always-on video feed from the cockpit to galley — and a policy that any adult passenger is allowed to take at least a brief look at it upon request to a flight attendant, except when required to be seated with belt fastened due to take-off, landing, or pilot request over the PA system (i.e. due to turbulence). We need to take away the security pilots have (greatly enhanced now, with the locked cockpit requirement) that nobody can see what they’re doing.
Yeah it is stretching it they must have slow news days because they don’t report anything regarding POTUS unless it is a date night or what Michelle is wearing.
It would have taken about twenty minutes to go 150 miles. Here you stated you wouldn’t have waited 78 minutes without saying something. If the aircraft was headed back, you wouldn’t need to say anything.
Do you know why the pilots didn’t respond for the period of time they didn’t?
The hand off call by the controller wasn’t acknowledged. For that reason the pilots didn’t change to the proper new frequency. The air traffic controller by policy should have contacted them again, until he got acknowledgment on the first frequency. He didn’t.
One of the pilots went to the bathroom when the air traffic controller made the first attempt at a notification. I’m not sure why the co-pilot didn’t hear it, but he didn’t. I’d imagine this happens from time to time.
If you get involved in something else, scheduling or something, you could lose track of time. KFI LA had on an expert consultant and he pretty much stated that these pilots may very well not have been that far out of line.
He thought they should get a few months without pay, but shouldn’t lose their licenses over this.
His take on it was certainly 180 degrees from what the media hype as been on it.
There is NO EXCUSE for the Terror these Two Pilots caused doing whatever they were doing in the Locked Cockpit! They oughta do Prison Time for this Insurrection and Dereliction of Duty and Endangerment of 100’s of Lives and possibly thousands of Lives!! As a Pilot, this is Inconceivable!!
If it were truly Laptops, it is Outrageous that they were operating them while responsible for a Multimillion Dollar Plane and Hundreds of Lives!! And further as a Heavy Computer User, it is Outrageous to say that One gets so absorbed in looking at a schedule or anything else on the computer that You dont hear alarms, radio calls, and the banging on a cockpit door and Intercockpit Phone Calls!!!!
LOCK the BassHats UP and Throw Away the KEYS!! and never let either ever set foot in a Cessna 150 ever again!! :-)
BTW, they became aware of their plane's position only after a flight attendant asked about the landing time over the planes intercom, according to the NTSB. Otherwise they might never have checked their position until they ran out of fuel.......
There have to have been passengers who were watching the time, due to connecting flights and business or personal appointments at the destination. I’m guessing the flight attendants were totally out of it too, distracted like the pilots by some activity they weren’t supposed to have been engaged in, and were roused into knocking on the cockpit door and rousing the pilots by a passenger inquiring as to when the heck they were going to be landing, seeing as how they were still heading straight at full altitude at least 45 minutes past the point where they should have begun descent, and there had been no announcement of a delay or diversion.
I agree on that point. Review my post 32 and see what you think.
I agree, many passengers must have noticed and started asking questions, I sure would have. Much less fly past MSP, no chance that gets un-noticed.
See my post #35. I’m not ready to give the flight attendants credit for noticing something was amiss. They should be well aware of the flight schedule, due to the need to schedule meal and drink service and subsequent clean up in advance of preparations for landing. They should also have much greater awareness than the average passenger of when the plane is beginning its very gradual pre-landing descent, which should have been about 30 minutes before scheduled landing time for a plane flying at this altitude.
Peep hole would be a good solution if it can be given a full view of the cockpit. I’d still like to see at capability of video feed, as it would create a habit among flight attendants of watching what’s going on in the cockpit. These flight attendants who hadn’t noticed they were 45 minutes or more overdue to begin descent, probably were too distracted to bother with peephole checks.
Indeed, I can see how many infrequent flyers wouldn’t notice gradual descent or lack thereof, but it’s just not plausible that experienced flight attendants (the only kind working on planes this large) wouldn’t be aware of it if they were focusing on their jobs the way they’re supposed to be.
Nothing new here.
In all the travels I had to do, which was considerable at one time, Northworst was the only airline to lose my luggage.
I also hated having to have a stop over in the Minneapolis airport, their hub, as it is a crappy facility and I seemed to always have to go from one extreme end of the concourse to the other to get to my connecting flights.
About 20 minutes.
Long enough to ask what was going on.
“Why haven’t the pilots’ laptops been confiscated so tests can be carried out on them to determine if the pilots are telling the truth?”
Do you really want the FAA to send the FBI out to see what sort of porn they were looking at?
“They had to intentionally ignore the radio calls, unless they were, in fact, incapacitated.....”
So if they were sleeping, the government can advise pilots not to sleep. If they were chatting online, the government can advise pilots not to chat online. What’s the difference? In any case, they should be fired.
The story makes it pretty clear they were using some form of an internet system on the laptop to access pilot flight records.
Frankly I want to know why it’s okay for the pilots to do that when the passengers are forbidden to do so because “it could interfere with the plane’s communications.”
It has been known for years all that is a bunch of crap.
I could use a GPS or surf the net in a plane and it will not impact the plane’s communication system at all....
It’s all one big lie.
Thanks for the info. That’s what I would have thought. I mess around with flight simulator, and it has all kinds of bells and whistles on it, especially on auto pilot.
half an hour or so
Well the KFI expert was wrong
These yokels most v=certainly should and have lost their tickets
I had the same, rather distasteful, thought.
Yes, if you’re on the right radio frequency.