news services
updated 4/7/2007 4:44:40 PM ET 2007-04-07T20:44:40

A Northwest Airlines flight was canceled because the pilot was yelling obscenities during a cell phone conversation while people were boarding, and cursed at one passenger, a federal official said Saturday.

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The pilot of the Las Vegas-to-Detroit flight was apparently in a heated cell phone conversation in the cockpit, then went into a lavatory, locked the door and continued the conversation, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said Saturday.

“Passengers who were boarding the aircraft could hear his end of it,” Gregor said.

Las Vegas police were sent Friday to McCarran International Airport to investigate, Gregor said. Authorities were told that the pilot cursed one passenger who confronted him, Gregor said.

"He was having a fit, swearing up a storm," a passenger on the flight told CNN. "He was saying 'F this' and 'F that.'"

When confronted about it by passengers, the pilot became "obscene" and began cursing at the customers, she said. "He made a big disturbance."

There were 180 passengers and five crew on the flight to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Northwest Airlines Corp. said in a statement.

The name of the captain, who Gregor described as a veteran pilot, wasn’t released.

Gregor said Northwest removed the pilot from the aircraft and returned him to his home base in Detroit for an investigation. He said it was up to Northwest to determine what would happen to the pilot.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest issued an apology to passengers and said the incident was under review.

Passengers were accommodated on other flights to their destinations, the airline said. They also were given meals and hotels during any additional time in Las Vegas.

The FAA plans to follow up with Northwest about the outburst, Gregor said.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.


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