Pilots Guilty of DWF: Distracted While Flying

In 2009, the FAA revoked the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles. Captain Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole were working on their personal laptops and lost track of time and their location. The pilots, who were out of communication with air traffic controllers for a whopping 91 minutes, violated numerous federal safety regulations in the incident, including failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating an aircraft carelessly and recklessly. The pilots said they were brought back to awareness when a flight attendance contacted them on the aircraft’s intercom. By then, they were over Wisconsin at 37,000 feet. They turned the Airbus A320 with its 144 passengers around and landed safely in Minneapolis. The airline said in a statement that using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots' command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline's flight deck policies, and violations of that policy result in termination.