Southwest Airlines Plane Lands At Wrong Missouri Airport, Federal Officials Launch Investigation
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) – Federal officials are investigating why a Southwest Airlines flight that was supposed to land at Branson Airport in southwest Missouri, instead landed at another airport about 7 miles away that only had about half as much runway.
Southwest Airlines Flight 4013, carrying 124 passengers and five crew members, was scheduled to go from Chicago's Midway International Airport to Branson Airport, airline spokesman Brad Hawkins said Sunday in a statement. But the Boeing 737-700 landed at Taney County Airport, which is also known as M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport.
"The landing was uneventful, and all customers and crew are safe," Hawkins said.
Hawkins did not have information on why the plane went to the wrong airport. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro says the agency is investigating the incident.
It's the second time in less than two months that a large jet has landed at the wrong airport.
In November, a Boeing 747 that was supposed to deliver parts to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., landed 9 miles north at Col. James Jabara Airport. That plane was flown by a two-person crew and had no passengers.
The website for M. Graham Clark Airport says its longest runway is 3,738 feet. Branson Airport's website says its runway is 7,140 feet long.
"The landing was really abrupt and the pilot applied the brakes really strongly," Dallas attorney Scott Schieffer, who was on the flight, told WFAA-TV. "You could hear it and you could certainly feel it."
Flight tracking website Flightaware.com said the Southwest flight landed at 6:11 p.m. Sunday. It was partly cloudy and in the high 50s in Branson at that time.
"Our ground crew from the Branson airport arrived at the airport to take care of our customers and their baggage," Hawkins said.
Flight 4013 had been scheduled to go from Branson to Dallas' Love Field. Hawkins said a plane was flown in specifically to Branson Airport around 10 p.m. to take the passengers and crew to Dallas, which flightaware.com showed landed at 11:42 p.m.
Hawkins told The Associated Press the aircraft at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport will be able to take off on the smaller runway, and Southwest expects to fly it out "as early as (Monday) morning."
The Taney County Sheriff's Office referred all calls to M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport. Messages left for comment from M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport were not immediately returned.
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