NTSB Says FAA Needs Better Landing Procedures


As part of its investigation into several events when airplanes landed at the wrong airports, the NTSB told the FAA this week it should amend its ATC procedures. “Controllers [should] withhold landing clearance until the aircraft has passed all other airports that may be confused with the destination airport,” the NTSB said. Also, software that warns controllers about minimum safe altitudes should be modified to also warn them if the airplane crew is trying to land at an airport different from the one in the flight plan. Currently, the software automatically switches to the airport where the crew is landing, without signaling a change.

The two new safety recommendations (PDF) are based on the NTSB’s investigations of two recent wrong-airport landing events, including a Southwest flight that mistakenly landed in Branson, Missouri, in January 2014, and an Atlas Air B747 cargo flight that landed at the wrong airport in Wichita, Kansas, in November 2013. Both aircraft landed safely and nobody was hurt in either incident. The NTSB also cited several other recent incidents, including a Beech Bonanza that mistakenly landed at an Air Force base in Shreveport, Louisiana, last November.