Piolts on computers mid-air

December 15, 2010 11:28:38 AM PST
So it turns out the pilots weren't asleep ? at least that's their story about what happened on board that Northwest Airlines plane that overflew the Minneapolis airport last Wednesday ? and kept on going. They were distracted, the NTSB says the pilots told them, because they were engrossed in their personal laptop computers ? which is against company policy. They say they were discussing crew schedules.

For more than an hour? For long enough to stay at 37,000 feet 150 miles past their destination? Are we supposed to believe that?

They say they were distracted and unaware of time when a flight attendant ? apparently noticing that they were not descending five minutes before the scheduled landing ? called into the cockpit and asked about the estimated time of arrival.

That's when the pilots realized they had messed up.

As for the tower not being able to get hold of them, the pilots say they were using cockpit speakers, not headsets for tower communications. So why didn't they hear the tower over the speakers?

Clearly, this investigation is a long way from over. And word this afternoon is that the FAA is expected to either suspend or revoke the pilots' licenses ? perhaps as early as tomorrow.

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

It's always a strange time of year, when the local sports teams are in the championships and the events themselves aren't telecast on ABC.

Baseball is huge in New York, no question. And the Yankees heading to the World Series, trying for their 27th championship, is a big story.

But when the vagaries of business ? in this case another network televising the games ? dictates what we can and can't show on our air, it puts something of a damper on the whole thing.

At least to me. And when our newscast happens to air when the game is on ? well, I want nothing more than for people to watch our "product." So there's this internal conflict ? as a New Yorker I'm rooting for the home teams. But as a journalist, I'm rooting for our station.

Nonetheless, because it's a big local story, we're all over the Yankees being in the World Series. And what to call this series: the Turnpike Series? The Amtrak Series? The EZ Pass Series? No matter what you call it, the Philadelphia Phillies will be trying to do something that no team has done since 2000 ? repeat as champions. And to do that they'll have to beat the team that did it: The Yankees. Scott Clark leads our coverage tonight, at 11.

Also at 11, we'll preview what the two candidates for New York Mayor are doing tonight ? on the eve of their last and final debate. I'll moderate the event, in our studios, tomorrow night at 7.

And our entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon takes a sneak peek at the new Michael Jackson record. "This Is It" is a compilation of old hits, outtakes and a new song ? all designed to coincide with the release of a movie, opening Wednesday, that was made during rehearsals for what was supposed to be the troubled entertainers "comeback."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


P.S.: One more note about us. Eyewitness News is now on iPhone! We have a new way you can get Eyewitness News anytime, anywhere. Our new iPhone app is waiting for you in the Apple store. Just fire up your iPhone and search the App Store for 7online.com or WABC. It's free, of course, and it has the very latest Eyewitness News stories, video, our AccuWeather forecast and much more. You can get movie times, sports scores, flight info and the list goes on and on...