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Controller to pilot who landed at wrong airport: “Are you kidding?”

March 25, 2014, Dallas, Tx. - A newly released air traffic control recording captures the confusion when a Southwest plane landed at the wrong Missouri airport in January.


March 25, 2014
By The Associated Press

Southwest Airlines Co. said Monday that the captain and co-pilot
remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the National Transportation
Safety Board's investigation of the Jan. 12 incident. Both men have at
least 12 years of experience at the airline.

 

In a recording released by the Federal
Aviation Administration, an air traffic controller at the main Branson,
Mo., airport can be heard clearing Southwest Flight 4013 to land.

 

After the plane stopped, one of the pilots radioed, "I assume I'm not at your airport."

 

"Southwest 4013," the controller answered, "uhm, have you landed?"

 

"Yes."

 

The Branson tower called a
regional air traffic centre in Springfield, Mo., to check on the plane.
Then he relayed news that the pilot said he had landed at the wrong
airport. The plane had touched down at another and smaller Branson-area
airport.

 

"Are you kidding?" an official in Springfield responded.

 

"No, I'm not," the Branson tower answered.

 

The Southwest pilots
landed at night by sight instead of using instruments to guide their
approach. They had to brake hard to stop the Boeing 737 with 124
passengers before the end of the smaller airport's runway. The runway
there is only about half as long as the one at the main Branson airport.
There were no injuries.

 

Aviation experts have questioned why neither pilot realized the mistake before landing.