Some Pilots Mistake Moffett Field as Mineta San Jose International Airport

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Federal Aviation Administration report six planes destined for Mineta San Jose International Airport nearly landed at Moffett Field, which is about 10 miles northeast. George Kiriyama reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014)

    The Federal Aviation Administration report six planes destined for Mineta San Jose International Airport nearly landed at Moffett Field, which is about 10 miles northeast.

    The data is from 20 years worth of plane landings at the San Jose airport. In that time frame, officials said 2.5 million planes have landed at the airport.

    Paul Kelly, a San Jose State aviation professor, said in the six incidents when pilots almost landed at Moffett Field the on-board instruments may have been telling crews they were off course.

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    "Pilots are human. If they look out the window and expect to see a runway and they see a runway, they identify it," Kelly said. "They are going to report it on sight."

    The FAA said in the past decade six commercial airplanes actually landed at the wrong airport, with the most recent a Southwest Airlines jet safely landing at a small airport in Missouri. The plan was about seven miles from where it was supposed to land at a much larger airport.

    There is some concern of commercial jets landing at airports with smaller runways.

    Kelly, however, said there are enough checks and balances to prevent such a scenario from happening.

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    "So their co-pilot may catch it. Their instruments may show a discrepancy. They may question if it's the right airport," he said. "Air traffic controller notices it. Lots of safety features, which is why nobody has actually landed at Moffett."