Go! pilots who flew past Hilo suspended
Mesa Air Group told employees yesterday that the two pilots of go! being investigated for possibly falling asleep on a Feb. 13 midmorning flight from Honolulu to Hilo and overshooting the airport have been taken off duty pending the outcome of a company and Federal Aviation Administration investigation.
Mesa has declined to identify the pilots at the controls of the 50-seat CRJ-200, but the captain had more than 15 years of experience, a company employee said who declined to be identified. No information was available on the first officer.
In an internal memo, Mesa said that "any occurrence which has the potential to adversely impact the normal operation of a flight is viewed by the company with the utmost seriousness, and where warranted we will take all appropriate and necessary measures."
The pilots were pulled from flight duties on the same day of the incident, according to Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Mesa.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said yesterday that the investigation is still proceeding, but that the agency has yet to speak to the pilots.
Generally speaking, Gregor said that a pilot who violates FAA regulations can face sanctions ranging from a warning letter to suspension to a revoked license.
He also said that "it's very rare for both pilots to fall asleep" but that he had no direct knowledge of the go! situation.
Mesa also said in the internal memo that it is not involved in ongoing merger discussions that are taking place between some of the major United States carriers, including some of Mesa's partners. Mesa, based in Phoenix, is a regional carrier for Delta Air Lines, US Airways and United Airlines. Delta has been in merger talks with Northwest Airlines while Continental Airlines reportedly has been in merger talks with United, as well as exploratory talks with American Airlines. US Airways merged with America West in 2005.