The pilots who overshot Minneapolis airport by some 100 miles have agreed not to fight the revocation of their licenses, but could apply to be reinstated later this year. The Associated Press (AP) reports that “under the settlement released by the Federal Aviation Administration, Timothy Cheney and Richard Cole can apply for new licenses Aug. 29, more than 10 months after they flew an Airbus A320 with 144 passengers about 100 miles past Minneapolis before discovering their mistake over Wisconsin.”
People will likely be up in arms at the thought of these two getting their licenses back, but the operative word in the agreement is “apply.” According to the AP, “the pilots will be eligible to apply for new airmen certificates at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 29. In the meantime, [the agreement] says, they can fly with qualified instructors and take the tests required to qualify for their required licenses. Once they have been issued their commercial multi-engine and instrument ratings, it says, they can go to Delta or a certified flight school to receive simulator training to regain their airline transport pilot and aircraft type certificates.”
That sounds like a lot of work, and potentially a lot of money, depending on how much retraining they must do. The bottom line is that Cole and Cheney won’t exactly have their certification handed to them, and even then there’s no way of knowing when, or if, they’ll get jobs similar to the ones they had. Both pilots remain suspended from Delta, and Delta isn’t speculating about their future with the airline.
Oddly, the AP reports that the agreement “stipulates that the settlement isn’t an admission by the pilots that they did anything wrong.” This would seem to conflict with the pilots’ own admission that they were distracted and using laptops when they missed their destination, nevermind the seemingly obvious error of missing a destination by 100 miles under any circumstances. But the settlement seems aimed at putting the issue to rest so all parties involved can duck out of the spotlight once and for all.