NWA cockpit recorder probably worthless


If the pilots on the Northwest Airlines flight that overshot Minneapolis by 150 miles this week were lying about what really happened on the flight, they are probably giving each other some serious high fives right now. It looks like the cockpit voice recorder is probably worthless in the investigation.

The voice recorder is an old model that only keeps 30 minutes, so presumably the last 30 minutes of tape is probably the flight turning around and heading back to the MSP airport where they were supposed to land. We can only hope the pilots talked about their "plan" on what to tell investigators so we know what was really going on.

"It captures information in 30-minute intervals, loops and records again for another 30 minutes and so on and so on," National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said today, according to the Star Tribune report. "The 30 minutes of the recording will be analyzed."

The device arrived in Washington, D.C. today to be analyzed by investigators.

Newer recorders keep up to two hours of cockpit activity. These pilots lucked out. Or didn't if they are telling the truth and it would be proven in the recordings.

Officials still suspect the pilots were sleeping, saying a heated argument shouldn't have distracted them for so long. A 30-minute accidental nap would be more plausible. If there is evidence proving they were sleeping, they could be charged for lying to a federal officer or obstructing legal process.