Airline Crew Lands at Wrong Airport

Incident draws renewed scrutiny to regional carrier Colgan Air.

Continental Main

Continental Main

Photo courtesy of Andrew Compolo

A Colgan Air flight crew has been relieved from duty after landing at the wrong airport earlier this month, drawing renewed attention to a company that is no stranger to public scrutiny.

The incident involved Colgan Flight 3222, which was cleared for a visual approach into Lake Charles, Louisiana, after crewmembers told air traffic control they had the field in sight. The Saab 340 landed, however, approximately eight miles west of Lake Charles at Southland Airport, a private facility in Carlyss, Louisiana. The passengers were later bused to Lake Charles.

According to a Southland Airport employee, it’s at least the third time in the past 20 years that commercial pilots have mistakenly landed at the airport.

The incident is currently under investigation, Colgan Air reps said.

The episode coincides with an FAA proposal for an almost $2 million fine against Colgan Air for allegedly allowing 84 newly hired flight attendants to complete close to 200 passenger flights without receiving proper training on how to use the aircraft’s fire extinguisher system.

Both developments are likely to spark new question about the company’s safety, which was thrust into the public spotlight by the crash of a regional twin turboprop in 2009 in Buffalo, New York. The crash occurred near Buffalo, New York, after the airplane stalled while on arrival to the international airport. All those aboard, as well as one person on the ground, were killed.

In response to the latest incident, U.S. Rep. Kathleen Hochul from Amherst, New York, has written Colgan, demanding information about the steps the company has taken to improve its safety standards since the 2009 accident.