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Gary Shipman
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FAA revokes licenses of distracted Northwest pilots

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After much public scrutiny theFAA has revoked the Northwest Airlines pilots who flew 150 miles past their destination last week. The two pilots behind this incident were out of contact with air traffic controllers for 91 minutes, violating several safety regulations. Although this situation ended with a safe landing at the desired destination, the pilots who simply “lost track of time” put all 144 passengers on Northwest Flight 188 at risk.

Both pilots insist that their loss of contact with air traffic controllers and the “delay” of landing were in result to reviewing a flight crew schedule on their personal laptops.

Lonnie Heidtke of Chippewa Falls, Wis., a passenger of flight 188, thinks this is a harsh penalty for the two pilots. He is stated as saying “I feel that the FAA pulling their license seems a little severe, I guess. But the same time. I think they should not be flying airplanes at least for a while so they have an opportunity to think about this.”

It may be questionable if the FAA’s punishment for the two pilots are appropriate but the incident in its self has raised many questions. With a drastic increase in the amount of vehicle and train accidents caused by texting and cell phone use, the FAA has no choice but to take a closer look at what is happening behind the cockpit doors.

There are no federal rules for pilots banning the use of laptops or other electronic devices as long as the plane is flying above a certain altitude. However, pilots and aviation safety experts said this episode has caused the NTSB and the FAA to take a hard look at pilot’s use of personal electronic devices while operating a plane.

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