March 18th, 2010
08:10 PM ET

NTSB: Wayward Northwest pilots awake but distracted

The pilots of Northwest Flight 188 did not fall asleep when they overflew their destination by more than 100 miles in October, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday in a detailed report on the wayward flight.

The two pilots "became distracted by a conversation" about the airline's new work schedule system and by laptop computers they were using in violation of company policy and did not communicate with air traffic control for about 1 hour and 17 minutes while they cruised past their Minneapolis, Minnesota, destination at 37,000 feet, the NTSB said.

The safety board also faulted the Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic control shortcomings.

The NTSB report gives the most complete official account to date of the errant flight, which prompted the FAA to revoke both pilots' licenses, prompted the airline to suspend them from flying and prompted the FAA to adopt new procedures to notify the U.S. military in cases where the FAA loses contact with commercial aircraft.

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