WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) sent a letter today to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demanding answers regarding an airplane that landed at the wrong airport in Southwest Missouri on January 12, 2014.

Blunt serves as Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the safety, security and infrastructure of the country’s freight and passenger transportation networks.

Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities in this incident; however, given the fact that the longest runway at the PLK airport [the Taney County Airport] is almost half the length of the longest runway at BKG [the Branson Airport], the improper landing of this plane could have had dire results,” the Senator wrote.

“This incident more than necessitates a complete and thorough investigation into why it occurred,” the Senator continued. “The flying public and residents surrounding every commercial airport in the country deserve answers.”

Blunt also serves as a member of the Commerce Subcommittees on:

  • Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
  • Communications, Technology, and the Internet
  • Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion
  • Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance

 To read the entire letter, please see below or click here.

Click here to view Senator Blunt’s statement from Monday, January 13, 2014.

January 14, 2014

Michael P. Huerta
Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Huerta:

I write with alarm regarding Southwest Flight #4013, which was originally scheduled to land at Branson Airport (BKG), but instead landed at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport, also known at Taney County Airport (PLK). Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities in this incident; however, given the fact that the longest runway at the PLK airport is almost half the length of the longest runway at BKG, the improper landing of this plane could have had dire results. This incident more than necessitates a complete and thorough investigation into why it occurred.

The Federal Aviation Administration is tasked with ensuring the safe and efficient movement of travelers throughout this country, playing a vital role in our nation's transportation sector.  Airline travelers, airport employees, and those on the ground must have every assurance that pilots are fully prepared to transport passengers safely to the correct destination. The implications of an incident such as this must be taken seriously.

To that end, I request the following information:

  1. Who had primarily responsibility for ensuring the aircraft landed at the appropriate airport? What is the typical chain of command when an airline prepares to land?
  2. Will you make the pilot call logs available to my staff?
  3. Generally, what are the steps that FAA will undertake to investigate this incident?
  4. What are the current regulations under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) which allow pilots to land a plane without backup instruments?

I appreciate your serious consideration of this request. The flying public and residents surrounding every commercial airport in the country deserve answers.

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