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Profile: Mike Mulcahy
Mike Mulcahy was a participant or observer in the following events:
American Airlines has problems contacting the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, about the problems with its aircraft, according to four managers working at the airline’s System Operations Control (SOC) center in Fort Worth, Texas, on this day. Craig Marquis, Craig Parfitt, Joe Bertapelle, and Mike Mulcahy will later tell the 9/11 Commission that American Airlines has “a hard time on 9/11 in getting in touch with Herndon.” They will say that “[p]recious minutes were lost in building the communications bridge” between the SOC and the Command Center. The cause of these communication problems is unknown. [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 ] The SOC has known that there are problems on Flight 11 since 8:21 a.m., when Marquis received a call from a supervisor at the airline’s Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina, alerting him to a call that had been received from one of the plane’s flight attendants about the emergency taking place (see 8:21 a.m. September 11, 2001). Presumably the SOC starts trying to contact the FAA Command Center soon after receiving this call. It is known that the SOC will make contact with the Command Center at 9:16 a.m., if not earlier (see 9:16 a.m.-9:18 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 9, 15] Bill Halleck, an air traffic control specialist at the SOC, is at least able to reach the FAA’s Boston Center regarding Flight 11 at 8:29 a.m. (see 8:29 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 5, 453] The four American Airlines managers will also tell the 9/11 Commission, “In the event that the [American Airlines] SOC was aware that it was the first to know about an incident [with an aircraft], the protocol would have been for the SOC manager on duty [i.e. Marquis] to have immediately autodialed to the Herndon manager on duty [i.e. Ben Sliney] with the information.” However, the FAA “knew what was going on because of the intercepted communications from the cockpit.” [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 ] (FAA air traffic controllers have been aware of problems with Flight 11 since around 8:14 a.m., when they lost communication with the plane (see 8:14 a.m.-8:24 a.m. September 11, 2001), and they subsequently hear communications made by the hijackers on the plane, beginning at 8:24 a.m. (see 8:24 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 18-19] )
Craig Marquis, the manager on duty at the American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center in Fort Worth, Texas, describes to his colleague Mike Mulcahy what he has been told about the trouble on Flight 11, but says he does not want this information to be passed on. [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19; 9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 ] Marquis is currently on the phone with Nydia Gonzalez, a supervisor at the American Airlines Southeastern Reservations Office in North Carolina. Gonzalez is relaying to him information provided to her by Betty Ong, a flight attendant on Flight 11, about what is happening on the hijacked plane (see (8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 8-9]
Marquis Describes Hijacking of Flight 11 - Marquis now talks to Mulcahy and describes what he knows about the crisis. [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 ] Mulcahy is the manager of SOC policies and procedures. His responsibilities include maintaining the emergency procedure checklist used in the SOC. [9/11 Commission, 11/19/2003 ] After telling him to “come here,” Marquis says to Mulcahy: “I got an incident going on here. Flight 11, from Boston to LA. The number three flight attendant [i.e. Ong] called and said that two male passengers [i.e. hijackers] on board stabbed the number one and the number five flight attendant.” Marquis says the two hijackers have “broken into the cockpit and the plane is being flown erratically right now.” He adds that the hijackers “were in seats 2A and 2B.” Apparently still talking to Mulcahy, Marquis gives the instruction, “All the information on Flight 11, bring it to me here.” He then repeats what he knows about the incident, saying: “The passengers in 2A and 2B, two male passengers, have broken into the cockpit, stabbed the number one flight attendant. Okay, so right now the plane is being flown erratically, but that’s all we know.”
Marquis Tells Colleague to Keep Quiet about Hijacking - Marquis then says he wants the news of the incident kept quiet. He says: “I don’t want this spread all over this office right now. Any information that you get, send to me, okay?” [American Airlines, 9/11/2001, pp. 7-19] A tape recording of today’s events in the SOC, including this conversation, will in 2004 be played to some relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks. One relative, who is a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines, will, after hearing the tape, be highly critical of the apparent desire of American Airlines managers to keep the news of the hijacking among themselves. She will say: “It was disgusting. The very first response was cover-up, when they should have been broadcasting this information all over the place.” Another relative will say, “I find it alarming that the airline… would want to hold something as horrific as a hijacking among a few people, when bells and whistles should have been going off in all categories of responsibility.” [New York Observer, 6/20/2004]
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