Thursday, December 17, 2009

NTSB on NWA 188

The NTSB released their docket docs on Northwest flight 188, the one that overflew Minneapolis by 150 miles. The media tried hard to find a smoking gun, with USA Today even misrepresenting the facts:
The pilots told investigators that they had no idea anything was wrong until flight attendant Barbara Logan called on an intercom to ask when they would be landing. The pilot who answered told her he was "hosed" and hung up, Logan said.
Not quite. The pilot didn't say "he" was hosed, he said she was hosed in a joking manner and told her they would be landing at '1200 Greenwich (Greenwich Mean Time or GMT). The other flight attendant said that meant 9 PM CDT, which is also wrong--it's 7 AM CDT in Minneapolis. Just for the record. Not sure why he said that but it's not unlike a pilot to jazz a stew, whether he knew they were 'hosed' already or not.

The important question continues to be what caused their loss of situational awareness, and the report doesn't shine much light. The CVR could have provided some clues but the NTSB described it as follows:
It appears that the airplane’s electrical network was re-energized three separate times after the engine was shutdown, before the CVR was removed or deactivated. Each time, the CVR started and recorded for 5 minutes5, causing more than half of the recording to be overwritten. In agreement with the Investigator-In-Charge, a CVR group did not convene and a transcript was not prepared.
That doesn't sound good.

Still, in reading the narrative it's hard not to have sympathy for these two guys. They both came across as average 50-somethings leading normal lives, which will now be turned upside down (and for their innocent families as well) all over one streak of dumbness. Thing is, one streak of dumbness in a pressured aluminum tube flying along at 500 mph is sometimes one too many.


Debbie said...

There is still something suspicious about this and what they were actually doing all that time in the cockpit. It is interesting that anything informative on the recording was gone.

Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

This may lead to new rules about voice recorders if nothing else.