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Flight canceled after pilot curses at passengers

Story Highlights

• Passengers confront pilot who's "swearing up a storm" before takeoff
• Pilot became "obscene" and began cursing at passengers, witness says
• Airport officials, FAA consult with Northwest Airlines, which cancels flight
• 180 passengers on board Easter-weekend flight from Las Vegas to Detroit
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(CNN) -- Northwest Airlines canceled a flight with 180 passengers aboard after the pilot began cursing at passengers while the plane was being prepared for takeoff in Las Vegas on Friday, airline officials and witnesses said.

The cancellation disrupted Easter travel plans for many of the passengers.

From the moment the captain stepped aboard Flight 1190 to Detroit, passengers reported hearing him use "animated" language while talking on his cell phone, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told CNN.

"He was having a fit, swearing up a storm," a passenger on the flight said. "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."

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and the local FAA flight standards office were notified, Gregor said. Police arrived on the scene, pulled the pilot aside and interviewed him.

He was not administered a field sobriety test. CNN was unable to immediately contact the police officers involved.

The FAA officials called Northwest Airlines headquarters. The airline decided to remove the pilot from the aircraft and fly him to Detroit for further questioning.

Northwest Airlines then canceled the flight, apologized for the delay and offered hotel accommodations and penalty-free re-booking on the next available flight out of Las Vegas, a spokesman for the airline said.

The airline said "a review of the matter" was being conducted and the decision to cancel the flight was made "due to reports of inappropriate language by a crew member."

Mike Fergus, an FAA spokesman, said the FAA's flight standards investigation unit was looking into the incident. According to Fergus, the FAA has the authority to send a "letter of admonition" to the pilot or, in the most extreme cases, revoke a pilot's FAA certificate, which would ground the pilot.

"I had to call and cancel two family dinners and we're stuck here an extra night," a passenger said. "We've been at the airport for six hours waiting -- it's chaos. It's Easter weekend...we want to be home."


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