Wayward pilots appeal license revocations

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: November 5, 2009 - 7:29 PM

The two Northwest Airlines pilots who dropped out of radio contact and overshot the Twin Cities airport have appealed to get their pilot's licenses back, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Oct. 27 revoked the licenses of Capt. Timothy B. Cheney, 53, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and First Officer Richard I. Cole, 54, of Salem, Ore., saying they "carelessly and recklessly" put their passengers and crew in jeopardy.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the case will be heard by an administrative law judge, who will set a hearing date. Such hearings typically are held within four months of when the appeal is filed, he said.

The appeal was filed late Wednesday, Holloway said.

Cheney and Cole were flying Flight 188 Oct. 21 with 144 passengers and three other crew members when it dropped out of communication for 91 minutes on the four-hour flight from San Diego to the Twin Cities. The pilots said they were engrossed in looking at the airline's new scheduling policy on personal laptops, in violation of company rules. They said they did not hear air traffic controllers' repeated and increasingly desperate attempts to contact them.

The pilots have declined to talk to the media about what happened.

Delta Air Lines, which operates Northwest as a subsidiary, has suspended the pilots with pay pending the outcome of the federal and airline investigations.

SUZANNE ZIEGLER

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