Plane Lands at Wrong Airport.

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David

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The government's air accident investigation branch is expected to ask for details of why a plane landed at a Northern Ireland military airfield.
Investigators will focus on why the pilots failed to identify the correct airfield despite clear weather and warnings about the Ballykelly airstrip.

Eirjet said the pilot is "not flying" until the incident is thoroughly investigated by aviation authorities.

The Liverpool-Londonderry flight was carrying 39 passengers at the time.

Eirjet, which was operating the flight on behalf of Ryanair on Wednesday, apologised but said the safety of the passengers was not compromised.

Ballykelly and City of Derry runways are aligned in the same direction.

Pilots' manuals outline the possibility of confusion in flight manuals over the airports, which are five miles apart.

Eirjet said the incident "involved the aircraft landing at a runway exactly in line" with the airport's runway.

On Thursday, the manager of City of Derry Airport said it was too early to conclude what the reason was for the incident.

Seamus Devine said it may have been a case of the pilot relying on what he could see, rather than on his instruments.

"An error took place somewhere and an aircraft ended up at an airfield it shouldn't have gone into," said Mr Devine, who was a pilot for 20 years.

He added: "A pilot looks at the window, sees a runway, the human instinct - the visual cortex - takes over and you see a runway immediately below you, distrust your instruments, and go around and land on that runway."


'Plug those gaps'


Captain Mervyn Granshaw, chairman of the British Air Line Pilots' Association, said there were several reasons why such an incident could occur.

"Clearly, it is a very worrying issue," he said.

"Human beings are fallible - from simple things like putting teabags in a milk jug to the other end of the spectrum of landing at the wrong runway.

"We know this in aviation, but we try to put in place processes, checks, balances to make sure we plug all those gaps."

Ryanair said in a statement it was due to an "error by the Eirjet pilot who mistakenly believed he was on a visual approach to City of Derry airport".

The passengers were taken by coach from Ballykelly to the airport.

The airstrip at Ballykelly is primarily used by Army helicopters and light aircraft.

It was built for huge military planes, making it one of the longest on the island.

Eirjet said it would begin a full investigation, working in consultation with the Department of Transport, the Irish Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority.

The airline said it placed "paramount importance on passenger safety".

Ryanair said it would be carrying out its own investigation into the incident.

In a statement, the company said: "In over seven years of Ryanair flights into City of Derry airport, and over 20 years of Ryanair-operated flights, such a mistake has never occurred before."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4859716.stm
 
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Guinness

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Notice how much emphasis is on 'operated by Eirjet' as said by Ryanair. Why is it operated by Eirjet? Because Ryanair are lacking pilots...

This isn't actually the first time its happened. Happens at least a few times a year.
 

Techniquest

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Be a bit hard wouldn't it? Bit tough to mistake the approaches to Waterloo International with the approaches to, say Victoria! The greens and whites everywhere might suggest a serious signalling error!
 

0118999

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Angus said:
It's a very easy mistake to make - so many airport approaches that are close together look identical from the air.
Maybe in a 4 seat Cessna, but this shouldn't be happening in an 180 seat A320. What would happen if you did this somewhere politically unstable? Would you live to tell the tale? And imagine the consequences if this had been a pilot mixing up London Heathrow and London City - can you imagine the trouble it would cause? You'd either go for a runway too steep and short or enter in to some of the worlds most congested airspace with no contact to ATC.

On a more realistic level, what would have happened if helicopters had been manuvering in and around the runway area at the time? I also believe not all the runway is serviceble (apparentley it has rail track running through part of it and it's a helicopter base now anyway) so it might not have been the safest of landings, wrong airport aside.

This was a sophisticated modern airliner full of navigational aids to pilots with a crew of two men. A simple glance at the ND (Navigation Display) with ARPT mode (displays location of airports, relative to the aircraft) enabled would have confirmed the error - no other additional inputs neccersary. Furthermore wherever you fly a visual approach or not it is usually SOP (standard operating procedure) to tune to the ILS (instrument landing system, a short range precision radio navigation system to assist pilots in landing) or any navigation aid possible - this obviously was not done or no attention was paid to indications from these aids.

From what I heard the pilots have already done a G/A (Go Around) so they should have known where and what the airfield looked like. To a degree they have been victims of poor training but they should still be held responsible I feel - this was a terrendous **** up to make. It is plastered on the chart about it and they had enough assitance available to them - there is no excuse for this unsafe manner of flying.

As a civil pilot, I, like others in the industry make safety my number 1 priority and incidents such as this are purely down to human error (poor judgement, poor training, lack of experience, etc) and are preventable, should personnel be more disciplined and alert (Ryanair and Co. have always been slack on safety and discipline anyway).

Angus is right and he does have a point, this does happen occasionally, but it mainly happens to planes with <10 seats at small aerodromes - not at city airports to jet traffic. As you can now tell this is a little bit more serious then sending Eurostar a bit wrong... the safety implications for this monumental **** up are truly astounding.

I look forward to reading the UK AAIB report and what action will be taken against the pilots and airline. May we forever boycott Ryanair!

NOTE: Edited for explanation of terms. I sometimes forget this is not an aviation forum!
 

Techniquest

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As someone who knows approximately nothing on the subject of aircraft, would it be possible for one of the pilots on this forum to explain what the abbreviated bits mean. It is all fine and well saying the pilots have had a GA, but if no-one but the poster knows what it means it is almost pointless mentioning it.
 

Guinness

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ATC - Air Traffic Control
GA - Go Around
APRT - Show nearby airports
ND - Navigational Display
ILS - Instrument Landing System
--- edited ---
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/0176187/L/


2nd Screen from the left is the Navigational Display (ND) above it more or less is five buttons, the far right one is green showing on the ND (In purple letters) where the nearest airports are. :)
 

Angus

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Yes, I wasn't excusing the mistake when I said that it is very easy to do, but a lot of people reading this might not appreciate how similar approaches can look from the air, no matter what aircraft you're flying. Of course you should always make sure, but when there's other things going on in the cockpit and you're under pressure it's so easy to just accept what appears to be the case and not check on the instruments.

ckyliu said:
From what I heard the pilots have already done a G/A (Go Around) so they should have known where and what the airfield looked like. To a degree they have been victims of poor training but they should still be held responsible I feel - this was a terrendous **** up to make. It is plastered on the chart about it and they had enough assitance available to them - there is no excuse for this unsafe manner of flying.
It's not satisfactory, but I don't think it's quite as serious as you make out - of all the mistakes you can make in an aircraft, landing at the wrong airport (assuming that it's a safe landing) is not the worst one that you could make. Unfortunately human error will always happen (unless you remove humans completely, and God forbid that from ever happening), and we have to accept that. Having said that, a good pilot should always check to make sure he is landing at the right place, and not just going on what appears to be right, which is what seems to have happened in this situation. So the pilot is at fault, but it is also very rare for an incident to be caused by pilot error alone - the management are usually at least equally to blame (but never admit it, instead always making the pilot the scapegoat). I think that you may well be right about training procedures for example.
 
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