Scathing FAA letter to Northwest pilot revoking license - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Scathing FAA letter to Northwest pilot revoking license

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News 8 is getting our first look at a scathing FAA letter to a Northwest pilot at the controls of that plane that overshot its target. The letter was sent as the pilot's license was revoked.

In the letter, the FAA says they "operated in a reckless manner" and are now grounded for good. Aviation officials say the message to other pilots is clear: keep your eyes on the skies.

The FAA describes the actions of Northwest Airlines pilot Richard Cole and co-pilot Timothy Cheney as "careless" and "reckless" after they overshot the Minneapolis airport by nearly 150 miles.

In violation of airline policy, NTSB investigators say the two veteran pilots - who took off from San Diego - were using their personal laptops in the cockpit to review their schedules. In the scathing letters, the FAA revokes both pilots' licenses stating they "operated in a reckless manner that endangered the lives and property of others."

It goes on to say "you engaged in conduct that put your passengers and your crew in serious jeopardy" and "you were on a frolic of your own."

It also details the 91 minutes the crew went without radio contact.

At 7:23 p.m., Denver air traffic control notified Minneapolis that Northwest flight 188 was approaching their airspace and was not in radio contact.

One minute later, the pilots were instructed twice to contact Minneapolis air controllers, but failed to do so.

A total of eight attempts were made to communicate without any response before they overflew their destination.

At 8:14 and off course, the flight crew contacted controllers, stating "we got distracted and we've overflown Minneapolis, we'd like to make a 180 and to an arrival from over Wisconsin."

The pilots, who have had no other accidents or safety incidents, have 10 days to appeal the decision to the National Transportation Safety Board.

In order to prevent a similar incident from happening again, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now working to create a bill that would prohibit the use of computer laptops in airline cockpits.

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