Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 9:48 am

Last Saturday 17th June, an Air Nova (Air Canada connector) Dash-8 on a flight from Montéal-Dorval Int'l to Mont-Joli, a city located about 400 nm downstream of Montréal on the south shore of the Saint-Lawrence river, landed instead at Rimouski airport which is about 25 nm upstream of the destination. It is only once arrived at the terminal building that some ground personnel informed the flying crew that they landed at the wrong airport. They took off immediately to land again in Mont-Joli 25 min. later. The pilots said they were only flying 'by sight' therefore not relying on their instruments. The Transport Safety Board said they won't make an inquiry because this is not an accident in itself. However, the carrier will do an internal inquiry.
I've lived and flown (as a passenger) around there for a few years and I know that the surroundings and the configuration of the two airports are very different. Rimouski, which is the regional capital of the Bas-Saint-Laurent/Gaspésie region, has a very basic airport with only one small runway and very little service to the point that even a connector like Air Nova doesn't fly there. The airport is located nearly in town so therefore a fair amount of 'urbanity' (houses and streets) is around. Mont-Joli, the regional airport, is a former air force base with 2 or 3 runways and is located in a remote area away from nearly everything, the municipality of Mont-Joli being very small.
Questions: is it normal to fly what still a commercial airplane only 'by sight'? Is the local ATC could be faulty in this? With such a 'visual difference' between the two airports'look, how did the pilots managed that?
Samurai 777
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 10:57 am

Jeez! What were the pilots thinking!? Did they have too much to drink, or were they really unfamiliar with that part of Quebec, namely the Gaspe region (if I'm correct)? I did see that article in the Edmonton Journal this morning. According to the article I read, the Dash 8 was carrying 18 passengers on that trip! I kinda wonder how pissed off the passengers were at this mistake by the pilots and if anybody had tried to tell the crew that something was wrong (maybe the pilots got arrogant and so brushed off the passengers' concerns). It is also said that Air Nova might either retrain, demote or even fire the pilots.
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 11:00 am

Seems to be totally the pilot(s) fault. Although they have one similar orientated runway 07/25 at Rimouski and 06/24 at Mont-Joli, unless this was their first time there I cant see why they would mistake them. They must have started the flight IFR (by instruments) and when they got closer to what they thought was Mont-Joli, they cancelled IFR and proceeded VFR (visual flight rules) for an approach. This is very common when the weather is good.

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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 11:05 am

I was talking to a friend who used to be a Dash-8 driver for Air Ontario, and he said that it is normal for them to cancel their IFR clearance while approaching an uncontrolled airport (as I thin this one is) because only one airplane at a time can have IFR clearance at a small airport in if one is departing and is still on the ground then they would usually cancel their IFR clearance so that the other plane could still be on the ground and get ready to I guess the answer is yes, in cases of small uncontrolled airports....
"Clive Beddoe says he favours competition, but his actions do not support that idea." Robert Milton - CEO Air Canada
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 11:15 am


something similar happened a while back in Finland. A Turkish 727 (someone correct me if i'm wrong) was going to land at Helsinki-Vantaa, but instead landed at Helsinki-Malmi, the predecessor to Helsinki-Vantaa (built in 1952 for the Olympic Games that year) and currently a general-aviation airport. The runway configurations are essentially similar and it was just a case of mistaken identity for the Turkish pilot. I do find that funny though  

Head in the clouds... yet feet planted firmly on the ground.
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No Surprise..

Wed Jun 21, 2000 11:32 am

No surprise, if you'll remember back to Continental, they landed at the wrong airport at Corpus Christi. They landed at a military field instead of the actual airport.
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 12:20 pm

I've never flown in Canada, but there is no excuse for this. Even if the pilots canceled IFR and proceeded VFR to the destination airport, you ALWAYS back it up with instruments. Did the proposed destination have any sort of navaid on the field or near it? VOR, ILS, NDB, DME.... anything. Any chance their Dash 8's had GPS?

The company I fly for REQUIRES we use a navaid even in VFR conditions on a visual approach.
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 1:18 pm

I remember many years ago when I still lived in Chicago a C-130 mistook Palwauke Airport for the Glenview Naval Air Station. They are about 5nm about and have a similiar runway config, but PWK's main runway is slightly more than 5000' long vs Glenview's 8500'
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia

RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 1:42 pm

Thank you all for your replies.
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RE: J32Driver

Wed Jun 21, 2000 1:49 pm

Mont-Joli (the intended airport) has 6 different instrument approaches (including an ILS, VOR and NDB apps), and there IS a VOR/DME right at the aerodrome.

Rimouski has an NDB at it's aerodrome.

The airports are 13.7nm from each other.

I would think they'd have had the Mont-Joli VOR tuned and if they were paying any sort of attention, they should have realised their mistake.

At least nobody was killed.

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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 5:38 pm

some years ago, a Northwest DC10 landed in Brussels instead of Frankfurt. The pilots were the only ones unaware of the mistake, the pax could see them landing on the wrong field thanks to the map display on the television screens...
Both pilots were fired after investigation.
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 7:05 pm

When the first PAA 747 flew into Heathrow it took a wrong turning over central London and landed at Northolt - a VIP/military airfield just north of LHR. Obviously this was highly embarrasing, as the aircraft had to be stripped down to the bare fuse to allow it to take off again....the runway was far to short, even with minimum fuel!

After this BOAC put a sign (as a publicity stunt) at the top of the Post Office tower saying Heathrow one way, Northolt the other!!!
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RE: Aircraft Lands At The Wrong Airport!

Wed Jun 21, 2000 7:31 pm

In some of these cases - why did they land without LANDING CLEARANCE.

Surely at least some of these cases occured at controlled ports.'s passenger - simultaneously connecting and flying direct.

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