Airbus Crew Lines Up On Wrong Runway

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The crew of a Volaris A320 from Mexico was cleared to land on Runway 13 Left at John F. Kennedy International Airport, about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, but instead lined up on 13 Right — a runway already occupied by a Delta Embraer 170. ATC cancelled the Delta crew’s takeoff clearance, and they taxied off the runway. The Volaris crew was told to go around, and they came back to land safely on Runway 22 Left. In a statement released to the media, the Mexican airline said: “Volaris will conduct an investigation to determine the factors that led to this event. The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority.” The Delta flight took off safely after the delay.

The incident follows at least two other high-profile go-arounds this year involving airline crews. In July, an Air Canada crew lined up on a taxiway, instead of the runway they were cleared for, at San Francisco International Airport. Three other jets were lined up on the taxiway, and the jet came within just a few feet of them before the crew was alerted by another pilot and safely went around. In October, the crew of an Air Canada jet was told six times to go around by ATC before they responded. The go-around requests were prompted by concerns that another jet might not have cleared the runway yet.

Comments (5)

This issue seems to be spreading. On Oct. 27th I was cleared to taxi to the active runway via C taxiway. While heading to the active on C taxiway I saw a SR-22 lined up on final for the active runway, (14), but the nose was pointed at me. 1st thought was the nose was pointing into a gusty wind. Nope, He landed on the taxiway while I headed for the dirt. The total distance between us was 100', by the time he got stopped. I did get off a heads up to ground control, but too late. Nice clear day, so I can't imagine what was going through his mind.

Posted by: MICHAEL BROOKER | December 8, 2017 12:33 PM    Report this comment

This happened a lot 20 years ago when people relied on eyeballs looking through the haze and following wandering ADF's and referring to paper charts.

There is NO reason that any pilot should be missing a runway today. None. Even freeware on an iPhone gives you EXTENDED CENTERLINES for every runway at every airport on every piece of the globe. Anyone who lines up on the wrong runway today should have their certificated pulled.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 8, 2017 2:47 PM    Report this comment

We've been lucky so far, but I think we're seeing a systemic issue that will only be tackled after a serious accident.

SFO is a perfect example: runways close together, night landing, no eyeballs in the tower on approaches for a second line of defense, often lack of functioning ILS. Total carelessness.

Regarding airport signs, I don't find their meaning obvious at all. Just a random assortment of yellow, white, red and black paint. Handy at a familiar airport, inscrutable at others.

Where is the redundancy or positive control in any of the above? All we have is the Big Sky for separation it seems.

After the Grand Canyon aerial collision at the dawn of passenger aviation, we realized rather late that there was in fact no "air traffic system." I would say the same of today's night operations.

Mark Fraser has a good point in that maybe electronic aids are required to get where we need to go. But I don't think blaming pilots for antique signage and lack of positive control will solve anything until the next accident.

Posted by: James Briggs | December 9, 2017 4:18 AM    Report this comment

We DON'T NEED positive control if pilots were awake and flew responsibly. We DO need positive control if pilots are no longer pilots and are incapable of piloting their craft as expected. The "pilots" in this instance are making the case for autonomous airliners.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 10, 2017 5:29 PM    Report this comment

After 17 years of pt 135 experience, I have noticed that controllers at bigger airports are working more and more traffic with closer separation in VFR conditions. With the increases in traffic that ADS-B allegedly allows I see this situation only getting worse. Sooner or later there will have to be someone who says enough is enough before a real tragedy happens.

Posted by: matthew wagner | December 10, 2017 6:42 PM    Report this comment

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