View Full Version : Homeland SecurityRegulations Confine 300 in Durance Vile

31st Dec 2004, 01:14
An NW EHAM - KSEA flight had to divert because of fog to a field without customs facilities and the pax were confined to the a/c for some 8-9 hours with inop toilets and next to no food and water.

Of course HS had had several hours before landing to peruse the pax list. But I guess that's what happens when your state votes for Kerry:yuk:

From Seattle Times:
Passengers relieved to reach Sea-Tac

When Northwest Airlines Flight 33 touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 6:26 a.m. yesterday, passengers broke into applause, relieved that a marathon journey from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was finally over.

"People clapped quite a bit when we landed," said John Castle, who was stuck on the plane for nearly 24 hours, 14 of them at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.

The flight, originally scheduled to arrive in Seattle at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, encountered heavy fog; with fuel running low, the pilot turned the plane around and landed in Moses Lake.

The 300-plus people on board had to stay on the plane until approximately 10 p.m. because no U.S. Customs agents were at the airport. Passengers then had to wait for a new crew to arrive from Minneapolis because the original crew had exceeded the number of hours it could work under federal law.

Passengers, who were allowed into a secure area of the airport late Tuesday, reboarded the plane at 2:30 a.m., Castle said. But the flight was delayed for almost two more hours because crew members couldn't close one of the plane's doors, he said.

CNN: Passengers describe extra 18 hours on plane (http://www.cnn.com/2004/TRAVEL/12/30/delayed.flight.ap/index.html)

31st Dec 2004, 01:54
Well, maybe the headline should read "Pilot Duty Day Contract Limitation Imprisons Passengers". As the article points out there were many factors, I don't think Homeland Security had much to do with it. You voted for Kerry, right <g>?

If you divert an international flight anywhere in the world to an airport without customs and immigration you're in for a goat rope.

This is deja vu, NW had a similar situation a few years ago with several planes blocked by a blizzard in DTW. As usual, money will cure all ills:


31st Dec 2004, 04:19
Just so you know the crew was also over FAA duty time also.Plus they didn't go anyware as they needed to clear customs too.

31st Dec 2004, 04:56
>>Just so you know the crew was also over FAA duty time also.

And what exactly is the FAA duty time for international flights?

31st Dec 2004, 15:44
May I suggest Northwest chooses a better alternate before blaming the pax. And are they Cat3B?

31st Dec 2004, 16:02
The main problem seems to have been selection of a totally unacceptable alternate...why? Surely somewhere capable of handling international flights was available? Even so, why could a segregated transit lounge not be made available after landing whilst Northwest got their act together?


31st Dec 2004, 16:18
Why does many of these threads turn political?
I have flown many years with pilots from many countries and have never seen or heard the comments I read here.
Sound like piss poor planning.
The country has nothing to do with it.
I am sure the crew probably brought this up on the HF to the company with duty day and possible problems with the immagration.
But some one with little or no experiance left in charge made the decision to do what he thought best.
Not the country guys, I worked and was based with a company in the UK for years, seen the same thing.
But I wont post it here in a political view, has nothing to do with it.
Crews are taught and do think to plan ahead.
People make mistakes, if we were perfect then we would all be rich and not be in this business.
Ever try to catch someone going above and beyond to do something right.
If you did would you post it here?
Happy New Year.

31st Dec 2004, 17:19
>>Why does many of these threads turn political?

Don't worry, he's just jealous.

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble <g>...

31st Dec 2004, 17:35
Unfortunately, there are far too many xenophobes who just can't help making totally stupid and nonsensical statements such as: "only in America" which in turn end up diverting threads into politically biased flame wars which makes my and the other moderators jobs into never ending nightmares. Personally, I also find that those who make it a habit of responding directly to those patheric barbs that the xenophobes (from all sides) cast about all the time are just as much to blame. By acknowledging that you have been affected by the petty quotes then you have lost the argument.

It invariably tends to be the same offenders. We and they know who they are and it would be appreciated if they could just raise their level of debate up a few notches and out of the kindergaten/gutter and into the more mature and sensible arena that their professional status expects of them. :hmm:

Yes, there are problems when dealing with US authorities from time to time and the topic of this thread is one of them. However, to imply that it is only a US problem as some immature xenophobes would have you believe is nothing short of an example of their own blinkered denial of how their own government authorities can screw up on a scale that is just as, if not worse, than the US is able to.

Get used to it. They obviously have a problem and we have to learn how to ignore them.

31st Dec 2004, 17:54
the pax were confined to the a/c for some 8-9 hours with inop toilets and next to no food and water.

surely in this day and age there is a better way to treat paying customers that you want to see flying with you again and again:(

quote from the Airports own web site ....

"Formerly Larson Air Force Base, this is now a world-class heavy jet training and testing facility used by the Boeing Company, Japan Airlines, the U.S. Military and many other air carriers from around the world"

Surely someone could have popped out and emptied the xxxxxxxx Loo's and given the poor xxxxxxxxxx passengers something to eat ..... even if it was only sandwiches :{

31st Dec 2004, 18:31
" ...only in America..." - not so, BEags, I've seen a very similar mess in another prestigious carrier elsewhere, nowhere near the USA. I've also seen some even bigger fiascos amongst the bright-eyed lads at Brize, 10 Sqn and 216...nobody's perfect. Seems like you were just unable to refrain from having yet another jab at the US....

We Brits are becoming very tiresome on PPRUNE these days, as Danny recently stated in an editorial...we have a political axe to grind, it seems, and we're letting it cloud our writings. Take your frustrations out by writing to Dubya, not lambasting your fellow aviators. It's very childish.

Back to the thread...
I presume this was a 747-400, CAT3B capable (crew qual permitting), perhaps the winds were out of limits for an autoland.
It might have been sensible to make an early decision to divert en-route to Minneapolis to pick up more fuel and a fresh crew, depending how far north their great circle routing was....
If their routing was from high latitudes, there's actually not that many good alternates into SEA if you're weight/fuel critical. BFI will suffer from the same conditions as Seatac...PDX is quite a ways further on, YVR is a different country....Everett, maybe...

I'm a [email protected] monday-morning QB, anyway. ;)

Whoops, sorry, Danny, you posted just before me...

Happy New Year !!

31st Dec 2004, 19:24
Sorry - it was a reference to the well-known US ABC "Good Morning America" TV news show which used to finish its "Also in today's news" segment with some bizarre story or other, concluding with the words "Only in America". Thus it was meant to be an obliquely ironic reference, not xenophobic.

I will therefore delete it as my possibly misplaced irony appears to have been lost on some less than cosmopolitan folk.

Happy New Year - and even Noo Year - to one and all!

31st Dec 2004, 19:35
RRAAMJET, it was a DC-10-30.

The sequence as summarized in the Columbia Basin Herald was as follows:

The Northwest Air flight from Amsterdam had been scheduled to land at Sea-Tac at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, but heavy fog above the Seattle airport forced the pilot to circle until fuel ran low and the DC-10-30 had to be diverted to GCIA.

The nine crew members and 274 passengers on the flight arrived in Moses Lake about 3 p.m., and were deplaned into the terminal about 7 p.m., Baldwin said, after it was determined that another crew had to be brought in from Minneapolis to fly the plane.

"When they decided to send a crew out from Minneapolis, they chartered a Lear jet to take them out," Baldwin said. "(It) got a flat tire on take-off, so that delayed the new crew from coming out from Minneapolis."

Baldwin said it was about 2 a.m. Wednesday when the new crew arrived. The plane departed from GCIA about 5 a.m. and arrived at Sea-Tac at 6:30 a.m.

Since embarking on their 10-hour nonstop flight from Amsterdam, passengers had already been on the plane for roughly 12 hours by the time it arrived in Moses Lake.

Baldwin said passengers could not leave the airport because they had not cleared immigrations and customs, so the terminal had to be secured. GCIA has only one customs officer who is there to clear cargo that comes in and out of Moses Lake on a regular basis, and is not capable of clearing 283 people, Baldwin said.

The airport ordered pizza and chicken for the passengers, and Dana's at the Port provided sandwiches and drinks, he said, also crediting and complimenting staff from Air America, PSA, Big Sky Airlines, customs, the Grant County Sheriff's Department, Domino's Pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Larry Peterson, president of the Port of Moses Lake Board of Commissioners, said that everything that came in to the terminal had to be X-rayed, including the pizza and chicken. People were also sent to Wal-Mart to purchase diapers, he added.

"That was a 100 percent, totally secured facility, so anything that came in had to go through full security measures," he said. "It sounds like it was well-handled."

Peterson said GCIA was picked because Moses Lake is a convenient place and a good spot to divert.

"At times, we've had as many as five or six international flights diverted in here," he said.
And it seems that old airlines (Air America (which didnt fly scheduled flights) and Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA)) don't simply fade away, they just go to Moses Lake

31st Dec 2004, 21:32
Saturn, well that certainly sounds a heck of a lot better than the original story ..... http://www.yorkshirekoi.co.uk/files/1634_baloons.gif

31st Dec 2004, 22:39
DC-10-30, well no wonder....even more critical with a full boat. I was thinking that AMS-SEA wasn't that much of a stretch for a PW -400, even in winter. 13 hours-ish? I guess their 10's aren't CAT3b (like the MD-80?), or perhaps the recent west coast storms were at play here.

Good job by the folks at Moses Lake...

BEags - ah, I get you now, cheers. :ok:

31st Dec 2004, 23:19
Being born in the USA, I have a quaint attachment to the ideals of human dignity enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights and it grieves me deeply when officialdom and their minions disregard these ideals.

Four or seven hours confinement in a full plane after 12 hours in flight is a lousy way to treat people.

Airports seeking diverts should have facilities for uncleared pax and a contingency plan for looking after them.

HS rules should facilitate doing the right thing for the pax.

Admittedly Canada confined dozens of flights full of pax on 9/11, but I suspect that an early stop in YEG, YYC, YWG would have kept the crew within limits.

It would have even been possible to process the pax through US customs and immigration at any of these airports and they could have been bussed from GCIA -- the driving time is less than 3 hours.

1st Jan 2005, 15:18
It has more to do with the mental midget local police chief who obviously was incapable of making a necessary common sense decision. The weary pax should have been promptly escorted into the terminal, pending arrival of the Customs inspector(s). :{

1st Jan 2005, 17:13
Like most stories, distance tends to obfuscate what actually went on.

Now I don't know quite why MWH was selected as the alternate, given that Portland, Bellingham, Spokane are about as far from SEA. But that's the Capt's call and I'm not going to second guess him. Like many rinky-dink airports in the Northern US, the "international" label simply indicates that MWH has customs available. Like the article says, it's one guy and he's only on call not fulltime. And it was a Customs reg. not the TSA which required detaining the pax.

I've been to MWH and the terminal there is just to handle a few Metro flights a day, not 280 off a DC-10. Little in the way of ground equipment - steps, honeywagon etc. - so I'm not surprised it took a while to get organized. The pax were deplaned into the terminal once enough staff had been rounded up to handle them and although I understand them being p*ssed off, I don't think it was anything like the ordeal it's been made out to be.

X-raying pizza and chicken wings does sound a bit OTT though :hmm: