Maybe Northwest Airlines should take a lesson from the movie "Airplane" and invest in some inflatable auto pilots...
No White House reaction today to the case of the
sleeping Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles before discovering the error and turning around.
When asked this morning about the incident, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton punted.
"I'm not going to speculate on any of that," Burton told reporters "I will just point you towards the FAA and the TSA."
Is Burton certain he doesn't want to talk about it? "I'm pretty sure I don't have any thoughts," he said.
Burton's got to be about the only one who isn't talking about it. Of course, early in a story (especially if it's embarrassing), the White House is going to do exactly this – throw the questions over to an agency.
Besides, this isn't like when pilots on Air Force One scared half of New York when the White House Military Office decided they should divebomb Manhattan – without alerting the public – for a photo op last May.
This is entirely different. Still terrifying, but the White House had nothing to do with it (even Joe Biden).
But, the airline community – unlike Burton – has plenty to say about the incident. Joe Sharkey, who runs one of the most popular airline blogs, doesn't buy the sleeping excuse.
"Obviously, two pilots in a cockpit on approach to a major airport who overshoot it and fly on blissfully for 78 minutes, failing to acknowledge radio calls, sounds an awful lot like two pilots who were asleep, assuming they weren’t involved in some 'heated discussion' that caused them to forget where the hell they were. Which happens to have been in the crowded airspace of a major international airport," he writes.
"The one that tells them to ask for directions?" she asks. "Or read a map? Or has the airline started charging pilots for their onboard happy hour?"
"Frankly, we've tried everything else," former FAA administrator Marian Blakely was alleged to have said. "We've put up more metal detectors, searched carry-on luggage, and prohibited passengers from traveling with sharp objects. Yet passengers still somehow continue to find ways to breach security. Clearly, the passengers have to go."
We'll never fall asleep on you if we're piloting a plane. But if we do, we'll let you know about it on Twitter. So follow us!