The pilot of a Northwest Airlines DC-9 voiced increasing alarm over blinding fog in the seconds before a runway collision last Dec. 3 that killed eight people, according to reports released Monday.
The National Transportation Safety Board released cockpit voice recordings from both aircraft prior to a weeklong hearing into the collision of the DC-9 and a Northwest 727 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.The recording showed that crews of both aircraft, as well as control tower personnel, appeared confused by the fog.
"We're out here, we're stuck, we can't see anything out here," Capt. William V. Lovelace, 52, of Flight 1482, the DC-9, told the tower less than a minute before the crash.
The tower responded that Flight 1482 had crossed an inactive runway.
"Ah, we're not sure," Lovelace replied. "It's so foggy out here. We're completely stuck here."
After a few more brief exchanges over the plane's location, a voice could be heard saying "oh, oh, oh," followed by the sound of impact.
Investigators will attempt to determine the cause of the crash and recommend steps to avoid future collisions on the nation's increasingly busy runways.
The Airline Pilots Association, at a briefing before the hearing, said when Flight 1482 found itself on the wrong runway, the controller tried to steer the plane through a confusing area known to pilots as "Spaghetti Junction."
Edward Davidson, a Northwest DC-9 captain and
ALPA's primary spokesman at the hearing, said the area - which has six entrances and only one exit - has been called "Spaghetti Junction" by pilots as long as he can remember.
The lack of adequate marking "is not just a problem with Detroit's airport," Davidson said. "It needs to be addressed by the FAA as soon as possible."