Pilots’ screw-up: ‘distracted flying’

nwaEver feel like doing some detailed staff scheduling while cruising along at 500 miles per hour?

That’s the story du jour from two pilots at Northwest Airlines regarding their infamous 150-mile overshoot of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport the other day.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called the incident “the ultimate case of distracted driving — only this time it was distracted flying.”

Having just days before made that landing at MSP on that very airline — sitting next to my 16-year-old boy — I’m rooting for some serious prison time for these clowns (who apparently dressed as pilots for Halloween).

For the record, they’re first officer Richard Cole of Salem, Ore., and captain Timothy Cheney of Gig Harbor, Wash.

Whether they were sleeping, engaged in “intense conversation” or fooling with their laptops — whatever the explanation is today — they endangered the lives of 144 people who put their trust in a major airline and its flight crews.

Northwest should refund those passengers’ money as well.

(Updates: The pilots’ licenses were revoked on Tuesday. The AP reported that the FAA is likely to take a hard look at the use of portable computers and other portable electronic devices by pilots. There are no federal rules that specifically ban pilots’ use of these devices if the plane is flying above 10,000 feet, said an FAA spokeswoman. Delta, which owns Northwest, said using laptops while flying is against policy and would result in termination.)

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