FAA releases Northwest Flight 188 audio and transcripts


When air traffic controllers were finally able to establish contact with a Northwest Airlines flight that overshot Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport in October, the pilots explained their vanishing act by saying, "We got distracted."

That's according to transcripts and audio files of the communication between the aircraft and air traffic controllers just released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Flight 188 from San Diego blew 150 miles past the airport on Oct. 21. Pilot Tim Cheney and first officer Richard Cole couldn't be reached by air traffic controllers for more than an hour. Worried about a possible hijacking, the military says fighter jets were ready to intercept the flight, but they didn't hear from air traffic controllers until after the pilots were  back on the radio.

Here's a condensed version:

"We, ah, we got, ah distracted and we're over head Eau Claire and would like to make a one-eighty and do arrival from Eau Claire," a pilot says

"I just have to verify that the cockpit is secure," an air traffic controller asks.

"It is secure, we got distracted," one of the pilots replies.

A few minutes pass. The pilots confirm they have enough fuel.

"Do you have time to give a brief explanation on what happened?" another air traffic controller asks.

"Cockpit distractions, that's all I can say," comes the reply.

Another few minutes go by.

"Is there any way you can elaborate on the distraction?"

(Ah, we're dealing with company issues here) and that's all, ah, that all I can tell you right now at this time," one of the pilots says, according to the transcript.

The Dallas Morning News got hold of an e-mail from one of pilot Tim Cheney' friends. It says that when the crew got to the gate, "In the jet-way awaiting them were FBI and every other authority you can imagine."

The FAA revoked their licenses.