FAA: Military Must Be Alerted Sooner When Air Traffic Controllers Lose Contact with Pilots

Federal Aviation Administration officials say they are strengthening procedures for alerting the military when air traffic controllers lose contact with planes.

The move comes as a result of the Northwest Airlines plane that overshot Minneapolis last month.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told reporters Friday that air traffic control managers waited 69 minutes after the last contact with Northwest Flight 188 before alerting the military of the problem. He said the guidance to controllers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been to alert the military after 10 minutes.

Babbitt said the plane was without any radio contact for a total of 77 minutes. He said he wasn't notified until after contact was re-established.