There’s been plenty of speculation as to what happened in the cockpit of NWA flight 188 including me. The initial reports explain that the pilots were engaged in a lively dialogue as to functions of the scheduling system. No need to worry about that any longer. Amazing that pilot and copilot had 20,000 and 11,000 hours respectively, as if flying time conferred it’s own mantle of wisdom. There’s a great book called “The Killing Zone-How and Why Pilots Die” which identifies primary causes for accidents. Interestingly, pilots with thousands of hours can fall prey to overconfidence, bad judgement, and complacency. It happened to airshow great Sean Tucker , who ran out of fuel.
Their head wasn’t in the game. For 78 minutes. That’s a very long time for both pilots to be AWOL in a cockpit where two pilots are required. CRM , Cockpit (or crew) Resource Management training is mandatory in commercial aviation and recognizes that a discrepancy between what is happening and what should be happening is often the first indicator that an error is occurring. Instead, two pilots were completely oblivious to radio calls, situational awareness etc. No doubt, autopilot cruising can be a little boring but ATC handoffs should keep at least one person engaged in the process of flying.
The co-pilot, Richard Cole went on record :”All I’m saying is we were not asleep; we were not having a fight; there was nothing serious going on in the cockpit that would threaten the people in the back at all,” Really? How threatening is an F-16 interception? What about a traffic conflict requiring a change of altitude and they just didn’t know?
…and you thought Halloween was scary.