A perfect landing but its at the wrong airport

Have you ever made the perfect landing – but at the wrong airport? As amusing or embarrassing at this may sound, landing at the wrong airport is not out of the realm of mistakes that can be made even by the best of professional pilots. And apparently, it happens often in some locations such as India.

Hence, Rupam Singh has written a fascinating article on Bangalore Aviation about the subject because after all, many international flights arrive in India at night and their foreign flight crews are often not familiar with the local geography. Nevertheless, landing at the wrong airport is still the fault of the pilot as the pilot was obviously relying on what he or she saw outside of the window and NOT on what the instruments or charts were telling him or her.

Rupam proceeds to recount some Indian aviation incidents involving commercial planes landing at the wrong airport – typically at air force bases instead of commercial airports as they are often near each other. In one such incident, a Saudi Arabian 747 destined for Chennai mistook a much smaller runway at a nearby air force station which led to a nerve racking experience for all involved as the plane blew out its tires while braking and was then surrounded by air force personnel with their guns drawn.

So have you ever landed at the wrong airport (would you admit to it?!!) or have ever heard about a pilot who landed at the wrong airport? Are there some locations in the UK or elsewhere that you frequent where this is not out of the realm of possibility if you are not careful?


3 Responses to A perfect landing but its at the wrong airport

  1. Martijn Moret July 12, 2009 at 11:57 #

    Never happened to me (yet?).

    Worst thing was following the wrong downwind at Gloucester (27 iso 22)…. our HSI had not been corrected for a while in flight. Any deviation between instruments and outside is always confusing, especially during (visual) approaches.

    Lckily detected in time, but feel the shame.

  2. Steven July 14, 2009 at 13:31 #

    I tend to always land at the right airport, I just have a bad habit of calling them by the wrong name in the first few self-announcements.

    • Matthew Stibbe July 14, 2009 at 17:49 #

      Hi Steven – I have totally done that! It's really embarrassing! Matthew

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