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Capt. Windh

'Ladies and gentlemen, We have landed at the wrong airport!'

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IanI have flown into Londonderry on numerous occasions. The Pilot was on a visual approach and to make this mistake isnt difficult.If the visibility was down or in precipitation the pilot would have been visually looking out for the runway ahead.Ballykelly is very close. The pilot would have seen the runway and probably thought he was slightly high and closer than he had imagined.With no indication from ATC that he was on the wrong approach he would probably have assumed that he had got it wrong slightly was in sight of the correct airfield but closer and higher than he was expecting.I have had this visual trick with Ballykelly flying into Londonderry myself.It is then panic stations to get out some drag and to drop onto the correct glideslope but at the wrong airfield.With still no comments from ATC and a LANDING clearance being given the idea that they were on the correct approach would have been reinforced.I was flying as captain on a visual approach in a citation a few months ago (not into this airfield)The visibility was poor and we were both looking for the airfield ahead.My copilot who was a very experienced pilot and normally a captain suddenly shouted "we are overflying the airfield turn downwind quick."I knew the area well and realised straight away that this was an airfield short of our destination.But had I been unfamiliar and listed to the copilot I may have made a downwind join onto the wrong airfield.As armchair pilots its so easy to cast judgement. When you are there for real having dropped out of cloud earlier and approaching a small airfield on a visual approach, its not such a hard mistake to make.Where were ATC in all this ???? An alert controller would have asked why the aircraft was not visual to him on short finals.Not seeing the aircraft and realising there was an airfield close by he should have warned the pilot of the possibility of a wrong approach.Peter

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>>As armchair pilots its so easy to cast judgement. When you are>there for real having dropped out of cloud earlier and>approaching a small airfield on a visual approach, its not>such a hard mistake to make.>Bring on those large screen, easy to see, moving map GPS's such as the Garmin 1000, and the correct airport would be hard to miss! :( Looking at the cockpit mockup of the new Boeing, it seems they're moving in that direction for commercial jetliners.However, years ago, a 727's pilot mistook the airport next to where we now live (U42) for KSLC, which is 10 miles away, but the runway's are the same direction. As I remember, they had to remove the seats to get it light enough to fly out.L.Adamson

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Even in the clear skies here in Arizona, although I know where Falcon Field is, sometimes it's a stretch to actually see it in the haze until I'm fairly close. I can understand how an airport can be mistaken for another--given all the distractions that can happen in the cockpit, one really has to have a strong sense of where one is at at all times. I can't imagine how hard it is for commercial pilots, who may or may not have seen an airport they're assigned to land at before.My favorite case of mistaken location identity happened on the part of a passenger. Some years ago, a passenger flying out of LAX to Oakland heard an annoucment akin to "Now boarding flight XXX to Oakland". It wasn't until he was flying over open ocean that he asked about where the flight was going (or when it was landing--can't remember the details exactly). Anyway, to make a long story short, he was headed to AUCKLAND, New Zealand. He became quite the "fifteen minute" celebrity when it happened. One has to wonder how he made it on an aircraft bound for New Zealand without someone catching his boarding pass.A few years before that, one of my peers was headed home to California when he fell asleep in the departure lounge at O'Hare. He awoke startled to hear the final boarding annoucement, and scurried onto the aircraft. As he was on the taxiway, the pilot announced "our flying time to Honolulu will be.....". They went back to the gate. Out of all my business travel, I've had such a passenger on one of my flights only once, on a puddle jumper in Texas going up to Waco. We lost an hour taking her back to the gate, and grabbing our turn to take off again. I was not pleased, as I was assigned to do a middle of the night server swap and the lost passenger soaked up any nap time I had coming to me :(-John

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Funny-I was doing instrument approaches with as a safety pilot with a friend a few months ago at kjxn. I heard a Cirrus call (with all the latest cockpit gps's, moving maps etc.) and report his position as the opposite side of the field and quite a ways out. We were on a 2 mile final on the ils-when suddenly he went right in front of us-I had to take evasive action. The tower was miffed and the Cirrus pilot was totally disoriented-and lost-he had no idea where he was-the tower had to walk him to the right runway! So much for all the latest and greatest....(not that I wouldn't mind them!).http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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737NGs have the option to display airports in the ND.When using the FMC to set a flightplan they can even show the runway you're SUPPOSED to land on in the ND.But AFAIK Ryanair has prohibited their pilots to use those tools because it's too expensive to keep the navdata for the FMC updated so they must use VOR nav only.

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Sounds like the guy needs to pre-fly the airport enviroment with flight simulator first! :D As to the lastest glass panel "gizzmos", I don't know anyone that has one, who cares to go back to the old way.L.Adamson

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>Even in the clear skies here in Arizona, although I know where Falcon Field is, sometimes it's a stretch to actually see it in the haze until I'm fairly close. I can understand how an airport can be mistaken for another--given all the distractions that can happen in the cockpit, one really has to have a strong sense of where one is at at all times. I can't imagine how hard it is for commercial pilots, who may or may not have seen an airport they're assigned to land at before.

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I am also for the latest gadgets and would never go back-I love the new displays. My fliteprep software running on a tablet is leaps and bounds over my panel mounted kln94 in terms of info.However, I have noticed with a friend I fly with-that his ifr skills have gone down ever since installing a panel mounted garmin 430. He gets busy messing with it-invariably hits a wrong button, and all the while fiddling with it, precision goes out the window. (He should be practicing the craft on the flight sim, but I can't seem to convince him of this useful aspect).This problem didn't happen before the new "distraction". I have to think a "weekend" pilot who is not practicing the button twisting skills with regularity might be effected by this phenomena.The Cirrus pilot above may have also been distracted by all the beauty of his displays and the wonderful information and knob twiddling-to the point that he became a real danger.It will be interesting to see if all of this fancy stuff actually enhances the safety statistics-or if they become the ultimate distraction increasing accidents in the future. I am hoping enhancement will be the order-but I tend to look at results....http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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Ofcourse, this was neither a 737NG nor a actual Ryanair owned aircraft. ;)The aircraft in question actually seems to be a Eirjet A320. They operate several flights for other airlines including Ryanair.

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Agree. If you wanted to stage a situation to fool a pilot into landing at the wrong airfield this was it. ILS was out, just done a missed-approach (i.e. very busy!), calls ATC that is high on the approach (ATC don't twig at this point). Two three runway airfields of very similar with the same configuration East/West of each other 5 miles apart with similar runway QDMs, both with the railway to the north, road to the south and sea to the north.However, still no excuse, it was the pilot's error, he was VMC and visually manouevring, he should have thought twice and double checked. Easy to say but there is no one else to blame.

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It was his fault, there is no arguement there. What happened to the Co-Pilot who must have also been fooled and ATC who must have also contributed to this mistake?Ultimate responsability lies with the Captain but I fear he will pay heavely for this huge embarrasment to his airline.I believe in the UK Medical Doctors cannot be sued for medical incompetance only known grosse negligence and are protected with insurance and unions.Not so with pilots. They have to be perfect beings who are punished heavely if they should dare be anything less.Peter

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Hopefully this error occured whilst operating within the SOPs or that the situation was considered unusual enough to warrant a slap on the wrist and some 're-training'. Ironically, if the conditions were marginal I bet they would have used other sources of information and thus not made the mistake. I don't believe anybody was in any danger at any point.Mistakes, we all make 'em but we can't choose them.

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>>It will be interesting to see if all of this fancy stuff actually >>enhances the safety statistics-or if they become the ultimate >>distraction increasing accidents in the future. I am hoping enhancement >>will be the order-but I tend to look at results....I'm no ludite, but it is interesting that UK controlled and restricted airspace infringments have not changed since the common take-up of GPS inspite of the fact that there are less pilots than for a couple of decades. I subscribe to the theory that if were going to mess up without gadgets then you will still mess up with them. There have been numerous accidents where pilots flew into marginal conditions relying on GPS to tell them where they are and not realising that when you are out of practice in IMC it is hard enough to add 1 and 1 together never mind trying to select an appropriate "Direct-to" and taking note of the terrain and controlled and restricted airspace inbetween.Gadgets make good pilots much more efficient...that's all IMHO.

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>I subscribe to the theory that if were going to mess up>without gadgets then you will still mess up with them. Nope....The younger generation who are experts at button pushing such as text messages, will not only know how to push buttons quickly & efficiently, but will be multi-tasking while keeping watch for un-known traffic/terrain problems at the same time on the GPS big screeen.To them, the process will be nearly automatic; unlike teaching the old ones, new tricks.

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>>I subscribe to the theory that if were going to mess up>>without gadgets then you will still mess up with them. >>Nope....>>The younger generation who are experts at button pushing such>as text messages, will not only know how to push buttons>quickly & efficiently, but will be multi-tasking while keeping>watch for un-known traffic/terrain problems at the same time>on the GPS big screeen.>>To them, the process will be nearly automatic; unlike teaching>the old ones, new tricks.>>Nope....I and my buddies belong to this "younger generation" and I assure you, we mess up just the same. One of the first things one of my best friends did was get a GPS after getting his private ticket. One of the first things he did was go direct to wherever he was going and clip the San Diego B airspace without talking to anybody. Fortunately, they were feeling nice and let him off with only a verbal over the phone.No amount of gadgetry will prevent poor airmanship. Neither should a lack of gadgetry excuse poor airmanship.

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How about the amount of button pushing-needed at perhaps a crucial time in flight?Just last week-I flew a short flight as copilot with my partner from Canada (cygd) to Port Huron, Mi. The weather was forecast to be only marginal vfr-however when about 5 miles from phn it went to pretty severe ifr-ceilings 100 ft. above minimums with moderate snow, 1 mile vis, and we were picking up ice. What was supposed to be a visual approach turned into a full ils-with monitoring needed on the icing (cycling of boots etc) in addition to the challenge of flying a low approach in these conditions. We put the ils freq. in, identified, and tuned the course on the hsi-3 steps. As copilot-I also programed the gps. Push "appr", enter airport, scroll to the ils appr.,push enter for the message "ils approaches for monitoring only", push to confirm,scroll to vectors, push enter,push the button to select-then get the message button to set the altimeter setting-push enter-go to the altimeter page and set the altimeter-push a few more buttons-then go back to "appr" -push activate approach-a few more pushes-now a nice display on the gps.A lot of steps-by the time I was done we were already turning base for the approach,along with a quite few descents.I found myself thinking that if I was flying single pilot on this flight I would have used the ils only-much simpler to set up, and less distracting,and very reliable in a very difficult situation. Use the gps just to see situational awareness. Of course, since I as copilot programed the gps-it was nice as a backup-but just getting the $#$#^& thing programmed could certainly have caused distractions at a crucial/critical time of flight in a lot of ways imho. As Peter stated, it is the distractions that get you.We did break out right over the runway with 1 mile vis and 100ft. above minimums in fairly heavy snow. The ils did the trick nicely.I have talked to my friend who seems to let his ifr flying get away after only 4 or so button presses of the gps-why not in low, busy conditions(for an approach especially) just use the steam gauges,reduce button presses, and enjoy the moving map for situational awareness? He agrees. Unfortunately, I think the button pressing and the features start to become compelling and few can resist....Again, it will be interesting to see what the statistics say after these technologies have been around a while.http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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> One of the first things>one of my best friends did was get a GPS after getting his>private ticket. One of the first things he did was go direct>to wherever he was going and clip the San Diego B airspace>without talking to anybody. Fortunately, they were feeling>nice and let him off with only a verbal over the phone.>Just a suggestion; but perhaps the friend needs a color moving map GPS, such as mine (Garmin 296), where the Class B boundaries stand out like a sore thumb with bright blue colors; and you have a flashing alarm as well as an audio alarm when approaching the airspace.In order to miss these warnings, you'd have to forget you were carrying the GPS altogether, or a sudden case of blindness & deafness. :D L.Adamson

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>Sorry to report I saw the incident happen and also heard it on the radio. The A320 crew elected to go around after losing the ILS signals and asked for circuit details. From a viewing position west of Eglinton I saw the A320 turned downwind RH at EGQB(I believe the pilot said he thought he was to high to land but he looked perfect to me i.e. wrong airfield). The radio at EGAE got rather involved on the servicablity of the ILS and the controller annouced he was listening( on an Icom) to the ident though it could not be recognised. The Calibrater was holding at 15miles east and all the lights were on even the flashing lead in approach lights. The A320 turned tight base at Ballykelly and then disappeared from my view. The controller asked for a DME and pilot reported on the ground. He landed on 26 at EGQB stopping just short of the railway line that crosses the runway. Unfortunate error or lots of errors I am afraid.<>I was listening to ATC too:ATC: "confirm your DME"Eirjet: "we're on the ground"ATC: "you've landed at Ballykelly"Eirjet: "I know"

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Just to add that Peter's quotes are from PPRuNE which has a disclaimer:"As these are anonymous forums the origins of the contributions may be opposite to what may be apparent. In fact the press may use it, or the unscrupulous, to elicit certain reactions."It isn't fact yet, but it does seem to me to be the most likely and plausible scenario.http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=219465

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The aerodrome AIP (EGAE AD 2.20 - Local Traffic Regulations, Section 4 - Warnings) states:"Pilots are reminded of the close proximity of Ballykelly 5 nm to the east-north-east of this aerodrome. Ballykelly runway lighting may be observed from the final approach to Runway 26. Pilots of aircraft en-route and in the circuit should positively identify Londonderry/Eglington before committing the aircraft to landing."The charts show that the approach to Rwy 26 passes almost directly over Ballykelly - it's offset by less than 0.5 nm. As a result the aircraft would appear to ATC to have been on course to land at Londonderry so there was no need for ATC to take any action on that account.The pilot was solely responsible for the incident - he didn't positively identify Londonderry.

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It gets worse from the pilot's point of view, even if Ryanair thinks it's funny.The approach to Rwy 26 at Londonderry is over land until past Ballykelly. It is then over water - Lough Foyle. The approach lighting is over water too, and the end of the ruynway is only 150 m from the water's edge. You might think the pilots could tell the difference between land and water but obviously not.

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mgh,I meant to post that at the top level, not as a rsponse to you.Anyway, I know it is human nature to shoot those down who occupy positions in life that we seek. I also know how easy it is to think that something is easy just because one has read the book or played the computer game. It is also easy to pull something apart that happened in mibutes over a period of days and say they should have thought of this and that. This wasn't a normal approach it was a high pressure, high workload situation and if mistakes happen, that will be the time.Even though this is a huge mistake and extremely embarrassing, this guy is/was a pilot for 30 years and is clearly no idiot who can't tell the difference between land and water - lol.

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