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FAA Investigating Pilot Error In Southwest Airlines Landing

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FAA Investigating Pilot Error In Southwest Airlines Landing

By Chase Snider. CREATED Jan 12, 2014
Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill says the FAA is looking into pilot error after a Southwest Airlines jet landed at the wrong airport in Branson. The pilot told air traffic controllers he had the runway in sight. But it wasn't until after the plane landed that the pilot and controllers realized it was at the wrong airport.
DALLAS (AP) - Southwest Airlines says a third person in the cockpit of a plane that landed at the wrong Missouri airport was a company dispatcher who had authority to be there.

The airline and federal officials said Tuesday they are continuing to investigate why a Southwest Boeing 737 with 124 passengers headed for the Branson Airport landed several miles away at the Taney County Airport at College of the Ozarks. It has a runway roughly half as long.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King says a dispatcher was sitting behind the captain and first officer. Dispatchers work with pilots to plan flight routes after considering weather and other factors.

It's not uncommon for airline employees to sit in the jumpseat with the pilots' permission, but federal officials are likely to consider whether the dispatcher's presence distracted the pilots.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt has sent a letter to the FAA demanding a full investigation. The NTSB plans to interview the crew and look at the plane's black boxes.

Southwest Airlines Flight Takes Off Error Free

Live video streams showed the Southwest 737 taxing then taking off from the C of O airport without any incidents. Stay tuned for continuing coverage on

Pilots Put On Paid Leave Pending Investigation

Fox News is now reporting that Southwest Airlines has put the pilot and first officer on paid leave as the FAA and NTSB begin their investigation of the landing gone wrong.
Southwest Airlines says a plane that landed at the wrong airport in Branson will take off today. A spokesman at the Taney County Airport at College of the Ozarks says the plane would take off around 1 p.m. Flight 4013 landed at the College of the Ozarks airport Sunday night -- several miles away from the Branson Airport.  
The executive director of the Branson Airport says there were no problems there. He says the control tower at the Branson Airport was open, the weather was good, and the airport was ready to handle flights.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced via its official Twitter account that an it is investigating the Southwest Airlines flight that landed at the wrong airport Sunday night. The Associated Press is also reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration is also launching an investigation.

Senator Blunt Wants Explanation and Full Investigation

Senator Roy Blunt (MO-R), Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and security, released a statement Monday demanding an explanation into how the flight landed at the wrong airport.

“I’ve landed at this airport and it’s tough to navigate in small planes – let alone in an aircraft this size. People have every right to assume that they will arrive at their correct destination. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I will insist that federal regulators do a thorough investigation to find out exactly what happened in Southwest Missouri.”

A few homes near College of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo., were rattled tonight by a low-flying passenger jet from Southwest Airlines.

The flight coming from Chicago was supposed to land at the Branson airport, but touched down at the College of the Ozarks airport just after six Sunday night, which has a much shorter runway.


Listeners tell KTTS News they saw fire trucks rush to the scene. Reports from the scene indicate they may try to shuttle passengers to the Branson Airport before trying to figure out how to get the plane back in the air.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Dan Landson tells KTTS the Boeing 737-700 carried 124 customers with a crew of five. KTTS News hasn't received any injury reports at this time.

The National Transportation Safety Board and The Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.


Passenger Video From Inside The Cabin

Passenger Abbey Benesch sent us in this video from inside the cabin as the Captain explains what is going on. 


Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell Says Possible Pilot Mistake

"The landing was safe, no one was injured, " Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell tells KTTS News. Russell says they will be transporting passengers and luggage to the Branson Airport.

"The issue now is going to be to determine if it (C of O runway) is long enough to take off," Russell tells KTTS News.

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Chase Snider

Chase Snider

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Chase works as Digital Content Producer for, managing all the great web products, apps, social media pages and other online products for the market leading stations in the Ozarks.