American Airlines Flight Nearly Lands at Wrong Florida Airport

Sep 1, 2018

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An American Airlines crew nearly landed (mistakenly) at the wrong South Florida airport on Thursday. The crew of the A320 was nearing its final approach at Page Field (FMY) before performing a go around and landing at the correct airport, Fort Myers (RSW) — about 8 miles away.

According to the Fort Myers News-Press, American Airlines Flight 862, which was carry 137 passengers and five crew, was traveling from Philadelphia (PHL) to Fort Myers (RSW) on August 30. The A320 — registration N123UW — was reportedly cleared for a visual approach to RSW, reported the airport in sight and was handed off to the airport’s air traffic control tower.

However, instead of lining up to land at its assigned runway 06 at RSW, the A320 lined up to land on runway 05 at nearby Page Field. At 1:50pm ET, the A320 descended as low as 875 feet, according to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, before being instructed by ATC to perform a go around. The aircraft successfully landed at its assigned RSW runway 06 about six minutes after the initial go around.

According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration, when the mistaken approach became known, “air traffic controllers quickly directed the flight back on course to Southwest Florida International.

“The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into the operation,” said FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen.

“We are aware of the issue involving American Airlines flight 862 on Thursday, Aug. 30,” an American Airlines spokesperson told TPG. “We are conducting an investigation in coordination with the FAA and NTSB.”

There aren’t exact figures for how often mistake landings or approaches happen, however, Bergen alluded to the fact that they’re not all that common.

“While we don’t have numbers available on this, it’s unusual,” Bergen said.

In March, a NextJet flight that was scheduled to land at Gothenburg (GOT) instead went hundreds of miles off course to the northern Swedish city of Lulea (LLA). NextJet labeled the incident a “huge miss in communications.” In June 2017, a US federal investigation blamed Delta pilots for landing at Ellsworth Air Force Base (RCA) instead of its intended destination of Rapid City (RAP).

Featured image by Robert Alexander / Getty Images.

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