Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sleeping pilots miss airport

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether two airline pilots who flew past the airport in Hilo Hawaii by 15 miles last Wednesday were asleep. Go! Airlines flight 1002 left from Honolulu and was expected to land in Hilo around 10 a.m., but had to turn around after flying past the airport.

The pilots did return to the airport and land safely. Go! Airlines is owned by Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group, which also operates Mesa Airlines.

There is no indication that the pilots had to avoid landing because of other aircraft or weather, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. Investigators are looking into why the pilots flew past the airport.

Air traffic controllers, which had been tracking the plane by radar, were unable to reach the plane for 25 minutes.

Gregor said the FAA plans to interview the pilots of the 214-mile flight. Under FAA rules, they could be subject to a warning, suspension or license revocation depending on the findings.

Go! Airlines is also conducting their own investigation. Gregor also said that there is no FAA regulation that allows pilots to sleep during a flight. A radar track of the flight provided by the Web site shows the plane remained at 21,000 feet as it flew past Hilo before returning to the airport.

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