The National Transportation Safety Board cited the Southwest Airlines flight that landed at the wrong Missouri airport as one of the reasons for its new safety alert released Wednesday on its website.
In January 2014, Southwest Airlines Flight 4013 landed at the airport in Branson, Missouri -- about seven miles from its intended destination. It was the second time in less than two months that a large jet had landed at the wrong airport.
“All of us have experienced a loss of situational awareness at some time, but the consequences for pilots mistaking a nearby airport for the intended one, or landing on the wrong runway or a taxiway, can have catastrophic consequences,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a released statement.
The website for Branson Airport, the intended destination for the Southwest Airlines flight, says its runway is 7,140 feet long. The airport the flight landed at is just under half that length.
The safety alert on the NTSB website said that the risk of an accident increases because the runway at the wrong airport might not be long enough to accommodate the landing airplane, and air traffic controllers may not detect a wrong airport landing in time to intervene because of their own limitations.
The safety alert also provides pilots with five measures they can take the avoid a wrong airport landing and additional resources.