Southwest Wrong Airport Tower Tapes Released


After an open records request by NBC5 in Dallas, the FAA Friday released recordings of the radio exchange after a Southwest Airlines 737 landed at the wrong Missouri airport last Jan. 12. As might be expected there was initial confusion on both ends of the conversation between a pilot sitting near the end of a runway at Graham Clark Downtown Airport in Hollister, Mo., about seven miles from his intended destination of Branson, and the tower controller there. “I assume I’m not at your airport,” the pilot said to the controller after stopping a few hundred feet from the end of the shorter, narrower runway (3738 X 100 ft.) at Graham Clark. “Southwest 4013, have you landed?” the controller then asked and the reply from the pilot, after a slight delay was: “Yeah.”

The controller then called Springfield Approach, which was handling the aircraft at the time, and reported the incident. “Are you kidding?” the Springfield controller asked. Branson was an intermediate stop for the flight that originated at Chicago Midway and was to carry on to Dallas’s Love Field. Instead, the Branson-bound passengers went the final seven miles by bus and Southwest had to send another plane to pick up those headed to Dallas. Another crew took off the empty 737 from Graham Clark the next day. Both pilots of the ill-fated flight remain on paid leave while the investigation continues.