Northwest pilots appeal license revocation

  • Article by: SUZANNE ZIEGLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 5, 2009 - 9:26 AM

The two Northwest Airlines pilots who dropped out of radio contact and overshot the Twin Cities airport by about 100 miles have appealed their license revocations, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

The two Northwest Airlines pilots who dropped out of radio contact and overshot the Twin Cities airport by about 100 miles have appealed their license revocations, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration pulled the licenses of Capt. Timothy B. Cheney, 53, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and First Officer Richard I. Cole, 54, of Salem, Ore., saying the pilots operated carelessly and put the lives of the passengers and other crew members in jeopardy. They had until Friday to appeal.

In a statement today, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the case will be assigned to an administrative law judge, who will set a hearing date. Such hearings are typically held within 120 days of when the appeal is filed, he said.

Cheney and Cole were flying Flight 188 on Oct. 21 when it dropped out of communication for 91 minutes on the four-hour San Diego to Twin Cities flight. They 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.

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

Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707

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