'Distracted' pilots overshoot destination by 150 miles

The crew told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the airport police that “they were in a heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness,” the board said, citing information from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Investigators removed the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, which could capture any conversation between the two crew members on the flight deck, and the flight data recorder, which would record any manipulation of the controls. An airline spokesman said he did not know the length of the recording period.

The plane, an Airbus A320, carried the 2 pilots, 3 flight attendants and 144 passengers; it was cruising at 37,000 feet when the crew stopped responding, about an hour and five minutes before its scheduled arrival of 8:01 pm.

The plane arrived at 9:15 pm, according to Ed Stewart, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines, which owns Northwest.

The two pilots were suspended from flying pending the outcome of the investigation, Stewart said.

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