Federal Investigation Blames Delta Pilots for Landing at the Wrong Airport

Jun 6, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Last July, Delta Flight 2845 from Minneapolis (MSP) to Rapid City (RAP) ended up landing on a runway about seven miles away — at Ellsworth Air Force Base (RCA). And now, just about a year later, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is blaming pilot error for the wrong airport landing.

The two South Dakota airports — Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base — are located close to each other and, according to the Associated Press, the airfields have runways that nearly line up. The A320 took off from MSP carrying 130 passengers and landed at RCA instead of RAP. According to the Rapid City Journal, the passengers sat for about 2.5 hours at Ellsworth and were ordered to pull their window shades down so military personnel could walk through the cabin. After that time, the plane took off for the seven-mile trip to RAP.

At the time of the incident, it was under investigation by the NTSB and Delta, which was conducting an internal review. Now, the NTSB has released its findings that the pilots misidentified the runway as the result of excess altitude and failure to use all of the navigation information that was available to them. According to the AP, the crew knew of its mistake right before landing, however, they decided it was safest to complete the landing at RCA.

The NTSB’s report said that pilot confusion between the two airports is fairly common, given how close in distance they are. However, the report also noted that air traffic controllers and crew usually catch any errors before landing on the wrong runway. Delta has not yet responded to comment.

At the time of the incident last July, Delta said that the crew was taken off duty while the NTSB investigated it. In addition, Delta offered an apology to passengers on board. The good news is that landings at the wrong airport don’t happen all too often. Three years ago, the AP conducted a study and found that since the early 1990s, at least 150 flights — both cargo and commercial passenger — had landed at the wrong airport or had started to land at the wrong airport and realized their mistake in time.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

H/T: Palm Beach Post

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.