By TER Staff
The Enterprise Report has learned exclusively that a crucial air-to-ground communications system on Northwest Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis that overshot the airport by over a hundred miles and was out of contact with FAA air traffic control for over an hour, was turned off or disabled for some unknown reason.
Aviation sources familiar with the device, known as "ACARS", confirm that the only way the device would not be operating is for the pilots to turn it off from the cockpit or for it to have failed to operate properly during the flight.
The Enterprise Report has obtained exclusive ACARS data from the aircraft involved in Flight 188 earlier that same day. The data confirms that the ACARS system was functioning properly throughout the day on multiple flights proceeding the departure from San Diego to Minneapolis later that same day.
Mysteriously the ACARS system transmitted no data during the entire flight from San Diego to Minneapolis as Flight 188.
The communication system known as "ACARS" is short for "Aircraft Addressing and Communication Reporting System". The unit is an on-board communication device that transmits data to and from the aircraft. The pilots can also send and receive text messages to and from the airplane via the device.
According to published reports the Airbus A320 and its two pilots now identified as Captain Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole did not respond to numerous communication attempts for over an hour during the flight from FAA air traffic controllers and others. Those attempts included attempts to communicate via the ACARS system.
Data from the Northwest Airlines Airbus A320 identified as N374NW can be seen below. The data shows the aircraft's ACARS flight communication system was operating normally on earlier flights that same day.
The flight landed safely and the pilots were interviewed and claimed they were 'having a heated discussion" and "lost situational awareness" during the flight. The NTBS is investigating the case and the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been flown to Washington, DC. The pilots themselves have not yet been interviewed by the NTSB, although they were interviewed by FBI, Airport Police and TSA officials upon arrival that night.