NTSB reminds pilots to land at correct airport

Two wrong landing incidents in the past year prompted the National Transportation Safety Board’s communiqué on incorrect airport landings

There are a ton of details involved in flying an aircraft no doubt but you might think landing at the correct airport would be one of those things that just wouldn't be a serious problem.

Well I guess we'd be wrong on that score because today the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a Safety Alert to remind pilots to um, land at the right airport.

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There have been at least two wrong landing incidents in the past year that prompted the NTSB's missive entitled "Landing at the Wrong Airport."   The most recent occurred in January when a Southwest Airlines 737 landed at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri (the video in this story shows the plane leaving that airport); then last  November 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. 

The NTSB said that 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 in a statement.

The NTSB offered pilots five tips for pilots to really ensure they land at the correct airport:

  • Adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), verify the airplane's position relative to the destination airport, and use available cockpit instrumentation to verify that you are landing at the correct airport
  • Maintain extra vigilance when identifying the destination airport at night and when landing at an airport with others in close proximity.
  • Be familiar with and include in your approach briefing the destinatio airport's layout and relationship to other ground features; available lighting such as visual glideslope indicators, approach light systems, and runway lighting; and instrument approaches.
  • Use the most precise navigational aids available in conjunction with a visual approach when verifying the destination airport.
  • Confirm that you have correctly identified the destination airport before reporting the airport or runway is in sight.

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