While I’m sure the 2 pilots who were apparently too busy paying attention to their laptops to pay attention to flying an Airbus A320 this past week and flew by the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by 150 miles have serious regrets about their actions, their behavior is reprehensible.
The FAA has suspended their licenses and Delta has committed that they will be terminated for their actions. It is hard to argue for anything less.
These gentlemen were out of contact with controllers for 78 minutes. Due to their lack of response, there was a real concern that the plane may have been hijacked. Even the White House was alerted to this transgression while the event was in progress.
When I fly United, I always listen to the cockpit radio communications. If you have not listened to it before, a pilot would be hard pressed to not have to communicate every 10 or 15 minutes along a route and much, much more on departure from and on approach to an airport. Air traffic control is constantly making slight route or altitude adjustments, handing off from one control center to another, etc.
78 minutes is an absolute eternity to not be paying attention while flying over US air space.
While I feel badly for anyone who loses a job and for their families, these pilots exposed themselves and their passengers to extraordinary risk. They deserve to lose their jobs.
That said, these 2 knuckleheads would likely never again be so cavalier again in flight management. Perhaps another airline should give them another chance (assuming the FAA will license them to fly again). They are seasoned veterans who made a horrible business execution error.
What do you think?
Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting