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Pilots should be grounded

December 23, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

The pilot and co-pilot of an airliner that flew nearly 100 miles past its destination on Oct. 21 have asked that their pilot's licenses not be suspended. The more that becomes known about the near-disaster, the clearer it becomes that the two should never fly again - and that the airline industry needs to take steps to avoid similar situations in the future.

Pilot Timothy Cheney and co-pilot Richard Cole have insisted that they were working on their laptop computers and failed to notice that they had flown past their intended destination, Minneapolis. That is bad enough - but others involved have told more disturbing stories.

Two flight attendants have testified that when they tried to use an on-board telephone to alert the cockpit crew of a problem, the pilot hung up the phone on them. Ground dispatchers sent messages to the cockpit, but got no response.

Meanwhile, the Air Force was ready to send fighter planes to intercept the plane.

Clearly, the airline industry and the Federal Aviation Administration should find safeguards to avoid such disregard for the safety of airline passengers in the future.



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