Landing at the Correct Destination Airport – Are You Sure?

Is not so difficult to land at the wrong airport, especially when we wrongly think that we know the area.

With reference to past related incidents, a few days ago the NTSB issued a Safety Alert concerning landing at the wrong airport. In this issue the agency provides recommendations to avoid

Here a few tips that will help ensure that you are approaching to the right airport / runway.

1.- CHECK AND CROSSCHECK – In case of a visual approach, or visual circling maneuver, use all available resources – CRM – to positively identify the destination airport at wich you are approaching.

2.- TUNE AND IDENTIFY – Positively identify the destination airport through all available NAVAIDS like VOR; ILS; NDB; etc. And / Or verifying the correct indication / distance provided by the FMS.

3.- HEADING AND COURSE – Always set the runway in use final course prior to the approach briefing, check your heading and course deviation bar when on final approach, a runway heading that does not match the actual heading or course deviation bar fully displaced to either side is a good indication that something is wrong.

4.- SAVE THE DAY – If for some reason you are not sure that the runway in front of you is the correct one, request a landing clearance verification from the control tower on a prudent 4 to 5 NM final.

5.- GO AROUND! – Keep a perfect situational awareness on every stage of the approach and be always prepared for a go-around. In case of lack of published missed approach procedure for the stage being flown, make always the first climbing turn within the circling area, towards the landing runway.

6.- DON’T MAKE A BIGGER MISTAKE – If for some reason you are already landed at the wrong airport, don’t try to move the aircraft or taxi without assistance from airport authority.

Assess and positively execute all actions during all stages of flight.


Capt. Ivan



Southwest pilots confused by lights of wrong U.S. airport

The pilots of a Southwest Airlines plane that landed at the wrong airport in Missouri this week told investigators they mistook the bright runway lights of a smaller airport for their intended destination at Branson Airport, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Friday.

The pilots told NTSB investigators they did not realize they were at the wrong airport until they had landed late Sunday, which required heavy braking to get the Boeing 737-700 with 124 passengers aboard stopped on the shorter-than-expected runway, the NTSB said in a statement.

Southwest has suspended the two pilots from flying. The jet landed at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport instead of at Branson Airport, the main commercial air strip near Branson, which has a much longer runway. The airports are about 7 miles (11 km) apart.

The captain, who has worked for Southwest for 15 years and has about 16,000 flight hours, told investigators it was his first flight into Branson. The first officer, who has been with the airline since 2001, told the NTSB it was his second flight into Branson, but the previous one was during daylight hours.

The pilots said the approach had been programmed into the plane’s flight management system, but that they saw the bright runway lights of Clark Downtown Airport and flew a visual approach into what they mistakenly believed to be Branson Airport.

The plane left Chicago Midway Airport on Sunday on a flight to Dallas Love Field with a planned first stop in Branson, a popular musical entertainment and tourism spot in southwest Missouri.

After landing at the wrong airport, the passengers were taken by ground transportation to the correct airport and then flown to Dallas on another jet later on Sunday.

Southwest said it has apologized to the passengers, is refunding the cost of their tickets and giving them travel credits.

The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident.

“Safety remains our top priority; once we receive the final NTSB report, we will conduct a thorough review,” the airline said in a statement.

Source:  Reuters

We screw it again…

And we screw it again, last night a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 with 124 passengers and five crew on board landed at the wrong airport.

Southwest Airlines flight 4013 was a scheduled flight from Chicago Midway (KMDW) to Branson, Missouri (KBBG) airport, but instead of landing at its destination, the aircraft landed 7 miles north at the tiny but busy M. Graham Clark (KPLK) airport.

Runway 12/30 is only 3.738 ft. long and 100 ft. wide at M. Graham Clark airport, we can say that the guys did a pretty good job bringing the aircraft to a safe stop within the runway limits, but at the wrong airport.

Less than two months ago, the Boeing guys landed the Dreamlifter at Col. James Jabara airport, instead of McConell Air Force Base, 9 miles north.

At this point we start wondering, what’s happening to our pilots today? Is that apart from losing our basic flying skills we are also losing our common sense? We are not talking of airports that are beside each other, these are airports several miles apart.

Branson airport runway 14/32 its 7.140 ft. long and 150 ft. wide, almost twice the size of M.Graham Clark, it has ILS, LOC and RNAV (GPS) approach for rwy 32 and RNAV (GPS) approach for rwy 14.

I remember several years ago when a Captain flying in brighter skies now told me – “When you have an airport with an ILS or VOR approach, always set the freq and the final course and crosscheck it on final”. We can say here that just a simple look at the ILS or LOC course could have saved the day, or night.

As you can see in the title and content of this article I always used the term “we” instead of “they”, because I consider is not a matter of finding a person/s to blame and go against him or them. Is a matter of start seriously finding solutions and go back to our sources, if necessary.

Capt. Ivan

Southwest Dismisses Captain Nose Gear First Landing

Southwest Airlines said it fired the captain who was at the controls of a plane that landed nose first at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in July, injuring nine people and snarling air traffic for hours.

The action came as Dallas-based Southwest completed its probe of the accident, Linda Rutherford, an airline spokeswoman, said. Southwest ordered the first officer to undergo more training, Rutherford said.

Cockpit procedure has been a focus of the US inquiry into the July 22 incident. Flight 345’s captain, a 13-year Southwest pilot, took control from the first officer just before the Boeing Co. 737 hit the runway, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, whose investigation continues.

“The question is why the captain took control,” Bill Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said in an interview. “Normally, unless something major is wrong, the flying pilot is going to maintain control. The flying pilot can feel what the airplane is doing. When the captain takes control, it takes him a few seconds to understand what’s happening.”

The captain, with six years in that post, had more than 12,000 flight hours, the NTSB has said. The co-pilot had been with Southwest about 18 months at the time of the accident and had 5200 flight hours. The pilots had been on administrative leave during Southwest’s inquiry.

“As a matter of policy we have not identified the pilots and we are not discussing the specifics,” Rutherford said. “We are also still in an active investigation with the NTSB.”

With its nose pointed three degrees downward, the 737-700 struck the runway first with the landing gear at the front of the plane instead of settling onto the main wheels located beneath the wings, the NTSB said in a July 25 release.

The forward gear broke, snapping rearward and damaging an electronics bay. Flight 345 was arriving from Nashville, Tennessee, and carried 150 people.

Source:  Bloomberg

NTSB: Southwest B737, landed nose gear first

According to witness and video evidence, the NTSB has determined that Southwest flight 345, a Boeing 737-700 which nose gear collapsed on landing at La Guardia airport on July 22nd, made contact with the runway “nose gear first”.

NTSB Statement:

“The National Transportation Safety Board today released factual information from the July 22 accident involving a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The airplane’s front landing gear collapsed on landing”

  • Evidence from video and other sources is consistent with the nose-gear making contact with the runway before the main landing gear.


  • The flight data recorder on the airplane recorded 1,000 parameters and contained approximately 27 hours of recorded data, including the entire flight from Nashville to New York.


  • The cockpit voice recorder contains a two-hour recording of excellent quality that captures the entire flight from Nashville to New York and the accident landing sequence.


  • Flaps were set from 30 to 40 degrees about 56 seconds prior to touchdown.


  • Altitude was about 32 feet, airspeed was about 134 knots, and pitch attitude was about 2 degrees nose-up approximately 4 seconds prior touchdown.


  • At touchdown, the airspeed was approximately 133 knots and the aircraft was pitched down approximately 3 degrees.


  • After touchdown, the aircraft came to a stop within approximately 19 seconds.


  • A cockpit voice recorder group will convene tomorrow at NTSB laboratories in Washington to transcribe the relevant portion of the accident flight.

Southwest Airlines Flight 345Southwest Airlines Flight 345 - Electronics Bay

Source:  NTSB Press Release

  •   GDL 39