The pilots told NTSB investigators they did not realize they were
at the wrong airport until they had landed late Sunday, which
required heavy braking to get the Boeing 737-700 with 124 passengers
aboard stopped on the shorter-than-expected runway, the NTSB said in
Southwest has suspended the two pilots from flying. The jet landed
at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport instead of at Branson Airport,
the main commercial air strip near Branson, which has a much longer
runway. The airports are about 7 miles apart.
The captain, who has worked for Southwest for 15 years and has about
16,000 flight hours, told investigators it was his first flight into
Branson. The first officer, who has been with the airline since
2001, told the NTSB it was his second flight into Branson, but the
previous one was during daylight hours.
The pilots said the approach had been programmed into the plane's
flight management system, but that they saw the bright runway lights
of Clark Downtown Airport and flew a visual approach into what they
mistakenly believed to be Branson Airport.
The plane left Chicago Midway Airport on Sunday on a flight to
Dallas Love Field with a planned first stop in Branson, a popular
musical entertainment and tourism spot in southwest Missouri.
After landing at the wrong airport, the passengers were taken by
ground transportation to the correct airport and then flown to
Dallas on another jet later on Sunday.
[to top of second column]
Southwest said it has apologized to the passengers, is refunding the
cost of their tickets and giving them travel credits.
The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating
"Safety remains our top priority; once we receive the final NTSB
report, we will conduct a thorough review," the airline said in a
(Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Lisa Shumaker)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.