News Item

Whoops . . wrong airport

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released an update on the landing of a B-737 at a wrong airport.

As part of its ongoing investigation into an incident involving a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 that landed at the wrong airport in Missouri on 13 January, the NTSB has released a brief investigative update.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders (FDR and CVR) were taken to the NTSB laboratory and prepared for readout and analysis.
- the FDR recorded approximately 1000 parameters and contained approximately 27 hrs of recorded data.
- the CVR contained 2 hrs of good quality recording.

According to the CVR, the Southwest crew was informed by ATC that they were 15 miles from their intended target - Branson Airport. The crew responded that they had the airfield in sight and ATC cleared the aircraft for a visual approach and landing on runway 14 at Branson. According to the CVR, the landing was uneventful and it was not until shortly after landing that the crew realized they had landed at the wrong airport.

The two pilots, and a Southwest dispatcher who was riding in the jump seat, were interviewed by NTSB investigators.
- the captain has been with Southwest since 1999 and has ~16,000 flight hours, including ~6,700 hours as a captain on the B-737. This was his first flight into Branson Airport.
- the first officer has been with Southwest since 2001 and has ~25,000 flight hours. He informed investigators that he had previously flown into Branson Airport once, but during daylight hours.

The pilots stated that the approach had been programmed into their flight management system (FMS), but that they first saw the airport beacon and the runway lights of Graham Clark Downtown Airport, Hollister, which they mistakenly identified as Branson Airport. They cited the bright runway lights at Graham Clark and the fact that the runway was oriented in a similar direction.

They also informed investigators that they flew a visual approach into what they believed to be Branson - and did not realize they were at the wrong airport until they had landed. They confirmed that they used heavy braking to bring the aircraft to a stop - and then advised the Branson tower that they had landed at the wrong airport.

Details and follow-ups on this item can be found at the NTSB link below . .

  • 19 January 2014
  • RIN

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