FAA To Provide Timely Response With “No Radio” Events 





FAA To Provide Timely Response With “No Radio” Events  

By Mike Mitchell


November 14, 2009, Washington, D.C. — The FAA also has taken steps to ensure more accurate preliminary information about air traffic events can be provided to top officials more quickly. On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, N03274, operating as Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet. Flight 188 departed San Diego International Airport, California (SAN) to Minneapolis St Paul International World Chamberlain Airport (MSP) with 147 passengers.

At 7:58 pm central daylight time (CDT), the aircraft flew over the destination airport and continued northeast for approximately 150 miles. The MSP center controller reestablished communications with the crew at 8:14 pm and reportedly stated that the crew had become distracted and had overflown MSP, and requested to return to MSP.

As a result the FAA is updating training and procedures for handling the loss of two-way communication with aircraft and how other agencies are notified, after a detailed review of air traffic contact with Northwest Airlines Flight 188 on October 21, 2009.


 “We work closely with other aviation partners every day to make sure we all have a common understanding of what’s happening in the sky,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “Sharing information quickly is essential, and we’re making improvements to ensure all of our employees understand what to do and when to do it.”

The air traffic review determined that the FAA notified other agencies about the loss of radio contact with Northwest Flight 188 one hour and nine minutes after the last communication with the pilots. Eight minutes after the FAA informed other agencies via the Domestic Events Network teleconference line, air traffic controllers reestablished contact with the Northwest pilots.

The FAA expects to review changes in training and procedures by the end of January 2010 and to improve the incident notification process by the end of this month. The improvements are expected to:

· Ensure that air traffic controllers have the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to know which aircraft are in communications with air traffic control and can readily identify when communications have been interrupted.

·  Ensure that coordination with other agencies about “no radio” events and other aviation security events is handled effectively and accurately.

·    Ensure more accurate preliminary investigations and more timely dissemination of information internally. 

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