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Northwest Pilots May Regain Licenses

by John M. White |

Few people haven't heard about the 2 Northwest pilots who overflew their destination airport by 100 miles, then turned around and landed without any explanation for their mistake. While a lot of folks may feel that this event put all the passengers in danger, I would disagree with that assessment. No one was injured, and the aircraft was safely in cruise flight on autopilot for the duration of this unfortunate incident. There may have been a hue and cry from the public to punish these pilots, and in response the FAA promptly revoked both of their pilot licenses for operating an aircraft in an extremely reckless manner that amounted to a total dereliction and disregard of their duties.
Map Of NW Flt 188 Route Ah, you have to love the FAA! But I'll wager the airline and union immediately enlisted the help of some savy aviation attorneys to help sort this mess out. The airline worries about its image on the one hand, but also about the pilot's union on the other hand. The ALPA union complained the FAA acted "hastily", and bowed to public pressure in revoking their pilot licenses. Enter the aviation attorneys, and now a settlement agreement has been reached where the pilots dropped their appeal of the license revocation without admitting doing anything wrong. The FAA agreed to the settlement in order to avoid the risk of litigation, which might have proved embarrassing. The FAA's emergency revocation angered fellow pilots because the agency's investigators concluded the pilots "were on a frolic", violated some regulations and failed to respond to messages from their own dispatchers. The pilots are barred from applying for a new license until the end of August, but in the meantime can begin building flight experience because they now will have to re-qualify for their Airline Transport Pilot licenses. In the agreement the FAA will permit the flight tests to be "combined", and as soon as the initial licenses have been granted can begin simulator training for specific commercial airplane models. As one might imagine the process has been embroiled in union and airline politics, the involvement of many aviation attorneys, and other factors complicated the efforts to resolve this issue quickly. It is important to note that pilots who have made much more serious errors, including some involving fatal accidents, eventually resumed their flying careers. But this incident does point out an important fact, that when dealing with the FAA on a serious matter a competent, experienced and knowledgeable aviation attorney can have a huge impact on the outcome of a dispute with the FAA. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 The pilots life is founded on three things: sex, seniority, and salary, in that order. — Dr. Ludwig Lederer, corporate physician, American Airlines.

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