Bored Pilots Fly 150 Miles Off Course
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Bored Pilots Fly 150 Miles Off Course

January 14, 2020


NARRATOR: In 2009,
Northwest Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis,
carrying 147 passengers, doesn’t respond to calls
from Air Traffic Control, and is reported as NORDO. NORDO is a term that’s used
in the Air Traffic Control business to indicate that a
pilot is not talking to anybody in the Air Traffic
Control system, so NORDO means no radio contact. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:
Northwest 188. Northwest 188. NARRATOR: It’s now been
an hour since the pilots were last in contact
with Air Traffic Control. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:
[INAUDIBLE]. I just don’t know what
their procedure is if they can’t talk to anybody. Do they just hold over the
airport, and [INAUDIBLE]. I don’t know. You can’t be reach them at all? Right, I can’t reach them
on [INAUDIBLE] or anything. NARRATOR: Northwest
Airlines Flight 188 has now flown 150 miles
past its final destination of Minneapolis. The worst case scenario
is this is the beginning of another 9/11 event. And, of course, that has to go
through the controller’s mind. NARRATOR: Fearing a hijack,
and a repeat of 9/11, the US military prepares
to scramble fighter jets to intercept the airliner. Controllers ask
another Northwest Airlines pilot for help. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:
Frequency 126.322632 broadcast for Northwest 188 see if
you can raise that aircraft on that frequency, please. NORTHWEST AIRLINE PILOT:
OK, we’ll do that. NARRATOR: Then, finally– NORTHWEST AIRLINE FLIGHT 188:
Minneapolis Northwest 188. NARRATOR: One hour and 18
minutes of radio silence, Northwest Airlines Flight
188 makes contact with Air Traffic Control in Minneapolis. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: [INAUDIBLE]
Minneapolis Center, go ahead. NORTHWEST AIRLINE
FLIGHT 188: Roger. We got distracted and we’ve
overflown Minneapolis. We’re overhead Eau Claire
and would like to make a 180 and do arrival from Eau Claire. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:
Do you have time to give a brief explanation
on what happened? NORTHWEST AIRLINE FLIGHT 188:
Ah, just cockpit distractions. That’s all I can say. AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Is
there any way you can elaborate on the distractions? NORTHWEST AIRLINE
FLIGHT 188: [INAUDIBLE]. That’s all I can say
right now at this time. NARRATOR: In this incident,
increased reliance on automation in
the cockpit leads to boredom and distraction
which leads to error. In the wake of the incident,
both pilots had their licenses permanently revoked. This incident isn’t unique. Pilot distraction
is on the rise. Just how much is automation
contributing to pilot boredom and distraction? We’ve done studies,
for instance, where we’ve had pilots put in cockpits
for long duration flights, and we’ve had them
identify targets, basically, other
aircraft in the vicinity. And they’ll fly for
three or four hours. And then they’ll count the
number of aircraft they saw. And they’ll come in and they’ll
tell you they found 7 or 8, when, in fact, there were 15. So something happened. They weren’t sleeping, but
they weren’t paying attention. There’s no question
that boredom can lead to distraction or inattention. And, ultimately, that can lead
to an error in the cockpit. And, unfortunately,
when errors occur, if you don’t capture them,
they can lead to catastrophe.

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  1. And I thought that it was bad when my school bus driver kind of bliked out. We would get his attention and he would have to turn around because he missed a road that was part of the route.

  2. U Know What ?
    Getting through Same Job Day by Day Really gets Me, Us & them to get Bored
    & they or We all should Take care of it While our Duty Seriously .

  3. My dad had landed at Detroit that night. Instead of docking at the gate, they got off at the runway. There was a LOT of panic that night.

  4. Not buying the boredom explanation. The pilot even alluded to something “company” related. They were asleep or up to something (prior to the military scrambling fighters to intercept). I think it’s entirely plausible to keep the real foul play story under wraps. Getting distracted and not counting the accurate number of planes on a flight is one thing….overshooting and entire f*****g airport and not responding for over an hour. Nah…

  5. I was in a plane once and the pilot said "Ladies and gentleman, if you look to your left you can see Captain Stephen challenging us to a race."

    IN A BOEING 747

  6. "we were distracted" I hope those pilots were banned for life… as I typed this the narrator said their licenses were revoked. Couldn't be more appropriate.

  7. These two pilots paid the price. I don't get how you can be bored flying at that speed , that altitude and with hundreds of lives at stake. They weren't bored they were "distracted" LOL That's why they lost their licenses, it was neglect of duty. If it was an honesty mistake, they may have only been disciplined.

  8. Im not a real pilot but flown alot of hours on Xplane11 which gives you a good idea. Yes it's easy to see how one could get bored or fall asleep because once the route is all planned and the autopilot is switched on it is very boring. You can even program the cpu to approach and land for you pretty much it's possibly taken to much away from pilots to keep them alert in my opinion.

  9. Even though the aircraft was 150 miles off course, they did nothing during that hour and eighteen minutes of radio silence. A testament to the incompetency of an unnecessarily large and wasteful federal government. Too busy sending U.S. troops abroad to fight in unconstitutional foreign wars instead of keeping them here to ensure our own safety and security.

  10. I fly for FedEx and I can tell you this is a real problem. I don't even consider myself a pilot, a babysitter rather. That what we do most of the time, babysit computers.

  11. They were asleep. Plain and simple. Happens all the time unfortunately. Usually one of them is smart enough to stay awake tho.

  12. Either someone got a very little aircraft or a very loose runway, because one hour and eighteen minutes to dump some fuel is too long for a touch and GO.

  13. The second worst crash in United States is American Airlines flight 587 and there was a turbulence the pilots were trained to push the rudders during a turbulence situation. It was an overuse of rudders which blew up the vertical stabilizer at an altitude of 2300ft as soon as the vertical stabilizer cuts off rhe nose pitches dramatically forward dropping at a speed of 540km per an hour. The both pilots noticed that at am altitude of 1000ft they notice that the their bpth N1andN2 power decreases to 0% and an airspeed of 700km per an hour the wind screen at the cockpit is filled with the towns in queens New York as you know ot smashed into the ground at an airspeed of 900km per an hour.

  14. The pilots licenses were "revoked" and then 10 minutes later they were reinstated. Ridiculous. They should not have been reinstated until they reimbursed the taxpayers the $5 million we spent for having to scramble jets to find out what happened to their plane. Freaking unions…just like with the Police…always getting these terrible employees off with a slap on the wrist…

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