The mishaps of pilots landing at the wrong airport

Sometimes, even pilots forget their geography, as we take a look at the occasions when passenger jets have ended up at the wrong airport.

The mishaps of pilots landing at the wrong airport

Airline pilots don’t always know where they’re flying to…

For the passengers onboard a Continental Connection commuter service to Louisiana’s Lake Charles Regional airport last Wednesday, it was a routine landing – just at the wrong airport.

The flight crew only realised their mistake after touching down at Southland Field airport in Sulphur – about 15 miles away from their intended destination.

The mishaps of pilots landing at the wrong airport

Coincidentally, the two airports have a similar runway layout and are on the same latitude, the airport’s manager, Sam Larsh told local station, 7News, adding that it is the third time a pilot has made the mistake in 15 years.

There’s been a number of other incidents involving pilots landing at the wrong airports over the years.

Missing your stop

In 2009, two Northwest Airlines pilots carrying 144 passengers from San Diego to Minneapolis bypassed their intended airport and continued flying at cruising altitude for another 150 miles before realising they had overrun their destination.

The flight crew had not made contact with air traffic control for over an hour, raising concerns that the plane had been hijacked. The pilots, whose licences were revoked by the FAA following the incident, told investigators they had become distracted while working on their personal laptops.

The mishaps of pilots landing at the wrong airport

144 passengers were flown 150 miles past Minneapolis before the pilots realised they had overrun their destination.

In the same year, Angola’s flag carrier TAAG suspended a pilot and co-pilot who mistakenly landed their passenger plane at Lusaka City instead of Lusaka International airport in Zambia.

Air Force One (Hundred)

In 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s charter plane touched down in Des Moines instead of Cedar Rapids – about 100 miles away – after a mix-up.

In European skies, 39 passengers on a Ryanair flight operated by Eirjet ended up at the wrong airport after the pilot mistook an old army base – Ballykelly Camp – for the City of Derry airport, which is five miles away.

And in 2005, the crew of a Spanair plane carrying 95 pasengers destined for Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain mistakenly headed south-west and landed at Seville airport – over 600kms (320 miles) away. The flight was operated by Scandinavian airline Nordic Airways. Both airports have similar airport codes (SCQ) and (SVQ) which the airline believed could have led to the mistake.

A British couple thought they were jetting off on a trip of a lifetime to Sydney, Australia, only to land six hours later in Sydney, Nova Scotia

…And it’s not just the airlines

Passengers have also made headline news for the wrong reasons, after landing at the wrong destination.

In 2002, a British couple thought they were jetting off on a trip of a lifetime to Sydney, Australia, only to land six hours later in Sydney, Nova Scotia off Canada’s north-east coast. The couple blamed an internet booking mix-up.

It doesn’t end there either, as it seems passengers can’t always trust the accuracy of their in-flight maps.

An AirAsia passenger contacted us last year after spotting an error on the airline’s route map, marking Vientiane, the capital of Laos in Southeast Asia on the north border and not in in the south of Vietnam.

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