Northwest Pilots Were Working on Laptops: NTSB
Captain, first officer deny falling asleep in cockpit
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2009 3:12 PM CDT
A Northwest Airlines plane taxis as another lifts off at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis in this 2005 file photo.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
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(Newser) – The pilots of the Northwest flight that wandered 150 miles past its destination were working on their personal laptops in the cockpit, a violation of company policy. The two denied falling asleep and could hear the radio when they fell out of communication with ground personnel, they told NTSB investigators yesterday. The flight attendants on the runaway plane are being interviewed today, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

During "a concentrated period of discussion," captain Timothy Cheney and first officer Richard Cole said, "they did not monitor the airplane or calls from [the air traffic controllers] even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio," according the the NTSB report released today. "Neither pilot was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant called about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to land."