Apparently we haven’t learned anything since 9-11. On October 21st, Northwest flight 188 became NORDO (no radio communications) at 5:56 PM Mountain Daylight Time. The flight remained out of radio contact for 1 hour and 20 minutes. At 8:14 PM Central Daylight Time, the crew of NW Flight 188 contacted Mineapolis Center to request permission to turn around and come back. The plane was 150 miles past its destination.
I’m not a math whiz, but we’re 8 years and a month since the terrorist attacks of September 11th. So how is it that an airliner can be out of radio contact of more than an hour without fighters up in the sky? There are Air National Guard bases all across the country. Two bases were alerted, but no planes launched. And I have to take my shoes off at airport security why? I can’t bring my own bottled water why? It’s ok for an airliner with excess fuel to go missing for 1-1/2 hours, but rule followers like me have to jump through hoops to get a seat on that plane.
Lots of people are looking at pilot qualifications and pay. While that’s not a bad thing, I don’t think that’s the key point here. We’re not talking about a regional airline (where pay generally sucks and experience is lower).
We’re talking about a major airline where the flight crew failed to perform. More importantly, we’re talking about an airliner with plenty of fuel that was out of radio contact and deviated from its flight plan. Why weren’t fighter jets in the air? Radio contact was not re-established until 15 minutes after they passed their destination! No one knew what was taking place on that aircraft but fighter-jets never left the ground.
Flight 188′s Captain Richard Cole said, “It was not a serious event, from a safety issue.” Are you serious? The plane did not follow the flight plan filed for it. The flight crew was not aware of what was going on. NW 188 was not in radio contact with anyone for more than an hour.
How can this happen in the post-9/11 era? Seems to me we’re not really safer. It’s just the rule followers have to jump through more hoops to do the normal stuff. I guess the Government doesn’t realize real criminals and terrorists don’t follow the rules.