Flight 'misses airport by 150 miles'

10:01, October 26, 2009      

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Air traffic controllers lost contact with a Northwest Airlines flight carrying 144 passengers after the plane accidentally overshot its destination by 150 miles.

The craft was travelling from San Diego to Minneapolis but went past the airport after the pilots got distracted, Reuters reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that pilots of Flight 188 told authorities they had been having "a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness".

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman told Sky News: "[In the UK] you file a flight plan and you stick to it, making frequent contact with the ground throughout that time.

"America's airspace is vast so I don't know how frequently they would have radio contact with air traffic control. I assume they would still raise warning flags, though."

The plane lost radio contact for 75 minutes at 37,000 feet. Northwest's owner Delta Air Lines has relieved the pilots from flying duties pending investigations.

The US military had reportedly been alerted during the incident, with fighter jets put on standby in the event of a hijacking having taken place.

Source: China Daily/Agencies
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