WASHINGTON – Following two recent incidents in which transport category airplanes landed at the wrong airports, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a Safety Alert to remind pilots of the vigilance required to avoid such potentially catastrophic mistakes.
The latest Safety Alert, "Landing at the Wrong Airport," cites the January 2014 incident in which a Southwest Airlines 737 landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri; and the November 2013 incident in which a Boeing 747 cargo plane landed on a 6,100-foot runway instead of the 12,000-foot one at its intended airport 12 miles away.
Wrong airport landings present serious safety hazards, including the risk of overrun because a misidentified runway may not be long enough to accommodate the landing airplane, and the risk of collision with other aircraft due to an unexpected incursion into the runway environment.
"All of us have experienced a loss of situational awareness at some time, but the consequences for pilots mistaking a nearby airport for the intended one, or landing on the wrong runway or a taxiway, can have catastrophic consequences," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, "which is why it's so important to maintain a vigilant approach to following procedures throughout every flight."
The Safety Alert outlines five measures pilots can take to avoid a wrong airport landing, and provides additional flight safety resources.