Danger: Laptops at 35,000 feet

Two US pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles, causing grave concern among air traffic controls, where busy on their laptops according to safety authorities.

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Two US pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles, causing grave concern among air traffic controls, where busy on their laptops according to safety authorities.

When Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 flight to Minneapolis, with 144 passengers and five crew aboard, lost radio contact with air traffic controllers on 21 October, officials feared a hijacking or a crash. They scrambled planes from the National Guard and warned the White House of a potential problem.

Once the plane landed safely, initial reports suggested the two pilots had fallen asleep or had been engaged in a furious argument and lost contact with air traffic control.

However preliminary report from the US National Transportation Safety Board found that the pilots of the flight were distracted in the cockpit.

“Each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure. The first officer, who was more familiar with the procedure, was providing instruction to the captain. The use of personal computers on the flight deck is prohibited by company policy,” the report noted.

The investigation continues.

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