NORTHWEST AIRLINES has taken stern action against the flight deck crew of a Frankfurt-bound McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40, which landed at Brussels Airport by mistake on 5 September.

Northwest has completed its internal probe of the incident, which has resulted in the captain "taking early retirement" the first officer being sacked and the second officer suffering a lengthy suspension.

Although "the primary cause" of the error was "miscommunications by controllers in Europe," Northwest says that the crew must share responsibility for what happened.

The crew of Flight 52, which flew from Detroit carrying 241 passengers, realised its error only when it lined the aircraft up for the approach at Brussels. In spite of that, the crew decided to land anyway, and the aircraft was immediately suspended from duty.

The pilots apparently were the only ones unaware of the unplanned detour. Cabin crew and passengers followed the misdirection on the live map display in the cabin.

US Federal Aviation Administration and European air-traffic-control officials, continue to investigate the incident but early reports say that, European controllers were responsible.

Source: Flight International