Federal officials are investigating whether pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight fell asleep at the controls Wednesday, after their plane fell out of contact with air-traffic controllers for more than an hour and overshot its destination by 150 miles.
美国西北航空公司(Northwest Airlines Corp.)一架班机周三在飞行过程中与空中交通管制员失去联络一个多小时，并且飞过目的地150英里；联邦官员目前正在调查飞机驾驶员是否在飞行过程打瞌睡。
But the pilots told law-enforcement officials who interviewed them upon landing in Minneapolis that they had been engaged in a 'heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness,' according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
美国全国运输安全委员会(National Transportation Safety Board)称，飞机降落在明尼阿波利斯之后，执法官员随即找驾驶员进行了面谈。但驾驶员们说，他们当时正在热烈谈论航空公司的政策，因此对当时的情况全然不知。
During the 78-minute radio silence, controllers became so concerned about the fate of the 158 people aboard that they asked pilots of other aircraft in the vicinity to see if they could rouse the Northwest crew, according to industry and government officials. When that failed, the Federal Aviation Administration began to consider having military jets scrambled to intercept the twin-jet Airbus A320, these officials said.
美国航空业和政府官员说，在飞机与地面塔台失去联络的78分钟内，空中交通管制员对机上158名乘客的安全非常担忧，他们因此请求附近其他飞机的驾驶员看看能否唤醒这架西北航空公司航班的机组人员。这些官员说，在呼叫失败之后，美国航空管理局(Federal Aviation Administration)开始考虑让军用飞机升空拦截这架双引擎的空客A320飞机。
The incident -- which pilots and safety experts consider a bizarre break from routine procedure -- had the plane crossing various air-traffic control zones and being passed to different groups of controllers without any verbal response. It comes as federal regulators, lawmakers and airlines are focusing on the issue of pilot fatigue and debating possible changes to rules that spell out how long pilots can fly or be on duty in a 24-hour period.
Northwest Flight 188, which took off from San Diego and had been flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet when contact was lost, eventually circled back and landed safely in Minneapolis. None of the 147 passengers nor the unspecified number of crew members were injured.