VIDEO: Shannon jet lands at wrong airport

VIDEO: Shannon jet lands at wrong airport


The jet at the centre of yesterday’s incident in the US, is seen here in Shannon in March 2007. Image Pat Flynn
The jet at the centre of yesterday’s incident in the US, is seen here in Shannon in March 2007. Image Pat Flynn

A Boeing 747 cargo jet that landed at the wrong airport in the US early yesterday (Thursday) carried out its certification training at Shannon Airport.

The same 747 jumbo jet, specially converted to carry parts for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jet, visited Shannon in March 2007 as part of a series of “approving flights” necessary before it received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.

In the early hours of yesterday morning (Thursday) Irish time, the massive jet mistakenly landed at Col. James Jabara Airport in Kansas instead of it’s intended destination, McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Wichita about 8 miles away.

McConnell AFB has two parallel runways, each 12,000 (3656m) feet long, while the jet touched down at Jabara which has a single 6,100 foot (1859m) long runway, which is much shorter than is ideal for an aircraft of the 747’s size. Shannon Airport’s runway is 10,495 feet (3,200m) long.

The plane, operated by Atlas Air on behalf of Boeing, was en route to Wichita from JFK airport in New York when the crew landed at the wrong airport.

A tug had to be transported from McConnell Air Force Base to move the jet while a new flight crew was flown from New York to take the aircraft onto it’s original destination.

A spokesman for the airport said: “The aircraft landed safely; no damage to aircraft or airport. Atlas Air, which flies the aircraft, brought in a tug to turn the aircraft around to position it for takeoff.”

“Engineers at Atlas have determined that it can safely takeoff from Jabara as their fuel capacity is quite low. A new flight crew was sent from New York to fly the aircraft to McConnell,” the airport said.

One road that passes by the airport’s perimeter had to be closed as a precaution prior to the jet’s departure so that vehicles or people would not be injured by the plane’s jet blast.

The flight finally took off last night (Thursday) shortly after 1.15pm local time (7.15pm Irish time) and completed the final leg of it’s journey to it’s original destination just minutes away.

It’s understood that pilots of the flight were unaware of their mistake until a few moments after they had landed the jet. The runway on which they landed, was only half the length of the runway at their destination airport.

The Boeing 747-409 LCF (Large Cargo Freighter), known as the Dreamlifter, can carry an three times more cargo than the standard 747-400 freighter variants. Four in all were built exclusively to transport major parts of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft between assembly locations.

In March 2006, a flight operated by Eirjet on behalf of Ryanair landed at an Army base six miles from its intended destination, City of Derry Airport in Northern Ireland.


Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.