Military notified too late to launch fighters - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Military notified too late to launch fighters

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top commander says the U.S. military would have launched fighters to track down an errant Northwest Airlines flight if it had been notified quickly enough.

Gen. Gene Renuart, who heads U.S. Northern Command, said he learned of the incident just four or five minutes before the Federal Aviation Administration regained contact with the pilots, who flew 150 miles past Minneapolis, their destination.

Renuart said fighter jets were taxiing to the runway and should have been airborne. They were held back when FAA officials reported they thought they were re-establishing contact with the flight. Renuart said the Northern Command is doing an internal review. The pilots told safety investigators they lost track of time and place while using their laptops to work out crew schedules.

Online Reporter: Kelsi Schindler

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