A Southwest Airlines jet that landed at the wrong Missouri airport successfully took off despite a short runway and was heading to an airport that can accommodate its size.
The Boeing jet took off from the Taney County airport in Missouri without incident Monday afternoon.
Airline officials said they didn’t know why the craft, carrying 124 passengers and a crew of five, went to the smaller airport, which does not usually handle such large airplanes. It was supposed to have landed at Branson Airport, about seven miles away. The runways at the smaller field are about 3,700 feet long while the larger airport boasts runways that are more than 7,000 feet long.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are both investigating the incident.
The pilots have been placed on paid leave pending the investigations, airline spokeswoman Brandy King said in an email to reporters.
Southwest Flight 4013 left Chicago’s Midway International Airport on Sunday bound for Branson Airport, then for Dallas. But the plane, a Boeing 737-700, landed instead at the Taney County airport, also known as M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, according to a statement from the airline.
The website Flightaware.com, which tracks flights, said the Southwest flight landed at 6:11 p.m. Sunday. It was partly cloudy and the temperature was in the high 50s at that time.
The landing was made safely, but some of the passengers told reporters it was abrupt.
“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.”
The passengers were taken to the larger airport, where they were placed on a plane to complete their flight to Dallas.
The landing Sunday was the second recent incident involving a large jet missing its assigned airport.
In November, a Boeing 747 that was supposed to deliver parts to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., landed nine miles north at Col. James Jabara Airport. That plane had no passengers.
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