Northwest Airlines may have disappeared in the merger with Delta, but it’s still in the sights of the FAA, which has just proposed a whopping $1.45 million fine.
What’d they do? The FAA claims they operated some of their 757 aircraft “without proper windshield wiring inspections”.
Now that may sound like small potatoes to you and me, but according to the FAA, “Left uncorrected, the problem could cause overheating, smoking and possibly a fire.” Yes, I get it.
The airline – now known as Delta – has 30 days to respond.
Surely you remember those Northwest pilots who overshot their landing in Minneapolis last October by about 150 miles – and were out of radio contact?
They said they were distracted because they were working on their personal laptops.
You probably also heard the FAA revoked their licenses and the pilots were fighting that – but now (according to CNN), they’ve settled the case, without getting those licenses back. However, the FAA has agreed to let them reapply in ten months time.
My question: would any airline hire them? I’ve read these pilots had good records, but in this era of cutbacks, do they really have a chance of flying with the big carriers again?
Here’s a tricky one: what do you think of proposed legislation that would allow airlines and/or the government to listen in on pilots’ conversations in the cockpit – at any time?
Right now, monitoring is only done after-the-fact by the NTSB, which collects and transcribes the recordings from the so-called “black boxes” (usually orange) in the wake of crashes or safety incidents ??? and no one has a problem with that.
But as Terry Maxon reports in his Airline Biz Blog, the Southwest Pilots’ Association doesn’t like the idea of people listening to them “at will”.
To an extent, I can understand this – I mean, would you like your employer (let alone the government) listening in as you dispense your wisdom regarding last night’s Lakers game, or why your son keeps getting into trouble with his Kindergarten teacher?
I sure wouldn’t. On the other hand, unlike those Northwest pilots, I never flew a planeload of passengers 150 miles past their destination.
There’s got to be a middle ground somewhere…
Remember last October when those two Northwest pilots overshot their Minneapolis destination by 150 miles because of some argument or discussion or something while both were on their personal laptops?
Now, Delta (which merged with Northwest) is taking steps to see that won’t happen again by “making software and avionics changes” on some of its planes, according to the Wall St. Journal – changes that will enable Delta dispatchers to use “sound alerts” to raise distracted pilots.
You might remember that everyone in the world seemed to be trying to reach those pilots (radio contact was lost for a long 77 minutes) – trouble was, contact was attempted via silent text messages, which the oblivious pilots simply never noticed. They just kept cruising along…and along…
I think a great big loud “WHOOP-WHOOP” sound might do the trick.
If you type in nwa.com intending to go to the Northwest Airlines website – surprise! You wind up at Delta, instead. As of yesterday.
And I’m sure more than a few of you out there are saying, “It’s about time.”
After all, the merger between the two carriers was announced to the world back in April of 2008 – but while Delta notes that there are still a few “internal merger integration milestones to be reached” – it’s pretty much one airline at this point.
Yes, Delta is still busy painting over the Northwest logo on a few last planes, but it really is time (or past time) to say goodbye to Northwest. And nwa.com.
The final countdown to say goodbye to Northwest Airlines is underway. I know, its merger with Delta seems to have been a long time in the making (since Oct. 2008, anyway), but it’s finally coming to an end, as a new “super Delta” finally emerges.
Maybe you’ve been noticing things like 80% of Northwest planes are now painted in Delta colors — the rest will change by this Spring.
And in the coming weeks (according to the Wall St. Journal), look for Delta and Northwest pilots to share cockpits for the first time — you might not notice, though: both already wear Delta uniforms. And by the end of March, the two airlines’ ticketing systems will be replaced by a single entity.
Oh, and as you might have expected, Delta’s soft drink of choice prevails over Northwest’s Pepsi — since October, it’s been Coke or Diet Coke.
It was a miracle that nothing happened Christmas Day.
Well, “nothing” beyond a man trying to set off an explosive that led to part of the wall of an airplane cabin being set on fire, plus injuries to the alleged terrorist and some of the brave passengers who stopped him and saved the day.
Of course, the question remains — how did the situation get so far, with all the security we have in place? Trust me, all of official Washington is frantically working on that one, but here are my thoughts:
According to the Associated Press, the suspect “had been placed in a U.S. database of people suspected of terrorist ties in November” but not on the “No Fly” list. He was, at some point, also on a British “watch list”. So why wasn’t the suspect — at a minimum — pulled for extra screening?
At first blush, it would seem a simple process of cross-checking names on one list or another (and let me point out that the U.S. list of persons of interest — in terms of terror — is more than 500,000 names long) but somehow, something went awry. To be blunt, the system failed. Fortunately, the passengers on Northwest flight 253 sure didn’t — and let me add my voice to the chorus in thanking them.
It is a sad fact that it takes incidents like this one to initiate a “review” of our security processes. And it is also sad that a handful of highly motivated evil doers have made the hassle of air travel — that much more of a hassle.
But we can live with the hassles — if the system works.
According to CNN, the White House is calling an incident aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit today, an “attempted terrorist attack”.
The suspect was quickly subdued after he ignited what was believed to have been a small explosive device as the plane prepared to land in Detroit. Details are still sketchy, but the plane landed safely and the suspect is in custody. The Detroit Free Press quoted a man aboard this flight as saying people ran out of their seats to tackle the suspect — and he added, the way his fellow passengers responded “made me proud to be an American.”
What this means for air travelers: The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying that passengers “may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights.”
In other words, give yourself extra time: extra time to get to the airport, and extra time to go through security.