MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight that overshot its destination by 150 miles told colleagues they lost "situational awareness," U.S. officials said.
The plane was out of radio contact with air traffic controllers for 78 minutes during the flight from San Diego to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Wednesday night, The Wall Street Journal reported. The plane landed safely after controllers re-established contact.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the cockpit crew told other pilots they became involved in a "heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness." The NTSB is also investigating the possibility the pilots nodded off during the flight.
Pilot distraction and fatigue has been an issue since a Colgan Air commuter plane crashed into a house near the Buffalo airport in February, killing everyone on board and one man on the ground. Hearings on the crash have shown both pilots of that plane were probably tired and cockpit recordings show they were chatting during their approach to the airport.
The pilots of the Northwest flight have been relieved from flying while the NTSB and other agencies investigate their error.