App Leads Drivers Across Runway


Travelers in Alaska who relied on an iPhone app to lead them to the Fairbanks airport have driven onto the field and across an active runway at least twice in the last three weeks, the Alaska Dispatch reported this week. The iPhone directions led users onto the airport property, and onto Taxiway Bravo. The app doesn’t actually direct drivers onto the runway, but from the intersection, drivers can see across to the terminal, with an apparently clear driving route ahead of them. “These folks drove past several signs,” said Melissa Osborn, operations chief at the airport. “They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate.” The airport complained to Apple, which said it would fix the app, but as of Wednesday, it hadn’t. The airport has issued a Notam and put barricades in place.

As always, please remain vigilant when on the east ramp,” reads the Notice to Airmen. “Watch for drivers who appear unfamiliar and report them to the airport.” Osborn said she asked Apple to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, “thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this.” However, Angie Spear, marketing director for the airport, told the Dispatch “a lot of legal-speak” ensued. Both runway-crossing incidents happened early in the morning and there were no close calls with aircraft, Spear told The Associated Press. “Obviously, it could have been a very, very, very dangerous situation had they come during a flight departure or arrival,” she said.