When passengers get on a plane, they just assume that the pilots are going to take them to the right airport. After all, very few people can tell where they are when they are up in the air. Unfortunately for 124 passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight, the pilots took them to the wrong Missouri airport. Although this may just seem like it was a careless mistake, it actually ended up putting the passengers at risk.
The biggest problem was not the fact that the passengers arrived at the wrong airport. The problem was that the airport they landed at was not designed to take big passenger jets. As a result, the runways were only half as long as they would have been if the pilots had landed at the correct airport.
So far, Southwest Airlines has declined to name the pilots of Flight 4013. The pilots, who are both veterans, were travelling from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Branson Airport. Instead, they ended up landing at a small airfield called Taney County Airport, which is seven miles away from the actual destination.
None of the 124 passengers on board were hurt. However, once the Southwest Airlines staff got off the plane, they noticed just how dangerously close they came to the end of the runway. Just at the end of the runway is a very steep embankment that could have left many people on the plane injured.
One of the passengers on the plane, Scott Schieffer, said that he could feel his body lurching forward as soon as they landed. This must have been because of the force that the pilot was putting on the brake to get the plane to stop on that small amount of runway.
Although it was the pilots who caused this mistake, the passengers were lucky that they had veterans. They were able to recall their training and get the plane to stop in half the distance that it typically needed. That being said, it was still extremely dangerous.
The passengers did say that, after they landed, the pilot went on the intercom to say that they landed at the wrong airport. To make matters worse, the passengers were kept on the plane for an extra 75 minutes after landing before the doors were even opened.
Brandy King, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, said that the two pilots have been grounded for now pending an investigation. It is common policy for pilots to be grounded while they undergo a federal investigation. This is a matter that Southwest Airlines take very seriously.
Although the names of the pilots have not been given out, Southwest Airlines did say that the captain had been flying with them for 15 years. The first officer on the flight had been flying with them for 13 years. Thus, they had handled many flights during their years with Southwest Airlines, and they have never had any problems out of them. It is not clear yet what will happen to the pilots.