By lex, on October 22nd, 2009
Landing on a taxiway * is one thing. Not a small thing mind, but sorta-kinda understandable. Sometimes an approach drops you off on an angle to the runway and maybe the lights don’t look as blue as they ought to.
But it’s a little harder to understand how a pair of ATP rated pilots overshot their destination by 150 miles:
The pilots never responded to repeated efforts to contact them from about 7 p.m., when the plane was over western Kansas, until 8:14 p.m. when the plane was in Wisconsin, about 150 miles northeast of the MSP. The plane flew over the Twin Cities at 7:58 p.m.
The situation became increasingly alarming from a safety and security standpoint because the pilots could have been in distress or the plane hijacked, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinari…
The FAA said the FBI and airport police interviewed the crew, who said they “were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness.” The crew requested that the plane be allowed to return to MSP. The NTSB is scheduling an interview with the crew.
That should be an interesting interview. A flight from Sandy Eggo to Minneapolis would most likely cruise in the mid-30′s. I honestly don’t know how they do it in the airlines, but in a fighter I used “double altitude plus 10 miles” as a cruise let-down point. So say they were at Flight Level 330, they should have started their let-down some 70-odd miles west of the airport. Not figuring out you’ve overshot by 150 miles means that you’ve really gone over 200 miles off course, or the better part of half an hour. With ATC hollering at you for more than half the time.
That must have been some “discussion” the flight crew was having.
* 09-19-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.