Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rules of Engagement

In a post 9/11 world, a passenger jet off-course might attract some attention, with potentially disastrous consequences. So it's not clear what to make of this bizarre incident in Northern Ireland today: a Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Derry seems to have executed a perfectly safe landing with just one minor complication: it landed at the wrong airport, a military base 6 miles from where it was supposed to be (via BBC):

A civilian plane which was destined for Derry City Airport has landed at an Army base six miles away by mistake. The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the plane landed at Ballykelly airstrip. It said there were no signs it had been an emergency landing.

The timeline of events preceding this landing will merit considerable scrutiny, as it may have implications both for security protocols for wayward flights and the training of Ryanair pilots.

UPDATE: It turns out that even low cost airlines have their own "operated by ..." franchises:

The Liverpool to Derry service, operated by Eirjet on behalf of Ryanair, landed at Ballykelly airstrip at 1440 BST.

Ryanair said in a statement it was due to an "error by the Eirjet pilot who mistakenly believed he was on a visual approach to City of Derry airport".

In its statement, Ryanair said ... "We have also asked Eirjet, the operator of the aircraft to carry out a full investigation into this matter, as in over seven years of Ryanair flights into City of Derry airport, and over 20 years of Ryanair-operated flights, such a mistake has never occurred before," it added.

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