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Lake Charles bound plane lands in Carlyss by mistake. Colgan Air.

CARLYSS, LA (KPLC) - It happened again. Passengers aboard a Continental Express plane bound for Lake Charles were delayed after the plan landed outside of Carlyss by mistake Wednesday night. ( More...

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Wendell Smith 0
Pilots mistakenly landed at an airstrip rather than a Regional Airport.
I'm sorry, but don't Colgan's aircraft have Flight Management computers or at least GPS in them? I can somewhat understand this if you are conducting a flight completely under VFR conditions and on a VFR Flight Plan, but at the airline level?? Really??
Toby Sharp 0
that is embarrassing for the company....and the industry
dbaker 0
Light beacons can be confusing, localizers not so much.
Chris Bryant 0
Wow. Looking at the localizer approaches for runway 15 at each airport, I still don't see how the heck an instrument/private rated (let alone a commercial/instrument rated) pilot can mistake one for the other. Take a minute to *listen* to the localizer. UXL sounds a lot different from LCH in Morse code.
And even VFR, the airport layouts are quite different. "Hmmm... I thought KLCH had 2 runways" should be the first clue you're at the wrong airport.
David Aldrich 0
[ Tracking Link]
mobilken 0
Were was ATC!! This flight would have had to been handed off from enroute too approach control and given vectors to a fix before the pilot would have called a visual?
Ev Butler 0
What kind of plane was he flying? A Dash 8?
Tony Welch 0
SAAB 340
Ev Butler 0
Thanks. A 5k runway is cutting it a bit short. I recall a 737 landing at Daniel Field when it was destined for Bush Field at Augusta, GA, in 1986. It was a hair raising event to get that crate back in the air. Brakes locked, full throttle, still took the whole runway and the overrun to get airborne. Piedmont fired the pilot.
preacher1 0
Well, they are only 10 miles apart. Give the boy a
preacher1 0
Give the boy a break. They are only 10 miles apart and tower was
chris trahan 0
Colgan's Saab 340's do not have GPS. Still no excuse for not checking DME distance from the LCH VOR, or tuning the LCH ILS and verifying both localizer intercept and DME distances on final, particularly since the KLCH ATIS has warned for years that LCH may be mistaken for Southland Field.
Erik Myrom 0
The Saab does not have an FMS, Colgan's fleet flies /A everywhere they go. Not an excuse given the several other ways to ID an airport but things like this do happen, even to airplanes with FMS's.
capcal1000 0
With pilots as everything else, you get what you pay for.
Paul Bishop 0
I agree with James Crawford. Colgan is notorious for paying crappy wages to people who love to fly even if it's not a good paycheck. Unfortunately, these pilots are not nearly as well trained or experienced as legacy carrier pilots. Witness the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo not so long ago.
ray jones 0
wonder which certificate mill they got their ratings from?
Jetman737 0
Well, it's COLGAN...... Nuff said?
aflyer 0
This is the pilots fault....UXL has one runway LCH has two so its kinda hard to mix up the airports. This is what happens when you have inexperienced pilots at the controls. I laugh at this article with all the excuses it gives for why they landed at the wrong place. Common sense is what it takes
Greg Brothers 0
Colgan air needs to give it up
flyguyatl 0
Yes 2 runways but it was dark and it is possible that the PCL only controls the lights for one runway. At least that is the case at my airport where out of 4 runways only the longest rwy is actually controlled by PCL. Still no excuse of course to land a the wrong airport.
Todd Marks 0
Well when it's dark, no Tower controllers, and the airports are that close it's a little easier to understand. I laugh at all these armchair pilots who didn't read the entire article...
Andrew Stagg 0
The localizer frequency at LCH is 109.1, at UXL it's 109.3... not excusing the pilots, but flying in Louisiana at night, it's hard to tell one airport from another when they are so close and I'm guessing they just twisted up the wrong localizer frequency. That being said, they should've listened to the morse code identifier for the localizer and on short final you think they'd notice the runway was half as wide...
Andrew Stagg 0
The flight to UXL:
The flight back to IAH:
preacher1 0
@Todd Marks:Don't hit the armchair pilots too hard. If you would look at some of the profiles of those that commented here, there are some ATP's. By God, we have paid our dues and will speak as we feel. That being said, yes there are plenty of good possibilities for mistakes, and reasons why they would be made, BUT, there are just as many reasons they should not be made. Their is protocol and procedure for a reason and if you are going to captain an airliner, whether a Saab or 747, you need to follow them.
Gene spanos 0
This crew may end up flying am old C-47 hauling D/Crap over the Hump!
DashTrash 0
I wonder how long these poor bastards had been on duty? How much rest did they have the night before? Did they have a long enough break between flights to catch a meal?

Yeah, they made a basic mistake that thankfully didn't hurt anyone. Let the powers that be figure out why.
Michael Yockey 0
Would they not have flown the complete instrument procedure, including the turn? It seems to me that had they turned VOR LCH for the procedure turn they would have known they intercepted the wrong ILS.

I'm no pilot, so I don't know if it's common to forego the procedure turn, but I'd think this is a pretty severe lapse in judgment.
Sam Ajizian 0
Aviate, NAVIGATE, communicate
Viperdoc 0
Aviate, NAVIGATE, communicate......
chris trahan 0
It was a clear night, no clouds and great visibility. They almost certainly flew a visual approach. The mistake they made was in not using their navigational equipment to verify this was the right airport. Lake Charles Regional is 6 miles from the LCH VOR, Sothland Field is 14 miles from the VOR. A look at DME could have told them they were on final approach to the wrong airport.
Chris Murray 0
I wonder if they'll use Fatigue as an excuse. At my company, it's required to back up ALL visual approaches with an approach of some sort (ILS/RNAV/VOR) and we have to verify the flight instruments for an ILS.
Jeff Lemon 0
Back in the day, Braniff did the same thing by landing a 727 in Harlingen when they meant to land in Brownsville.

Western also did the same thing up in Wyoming with a 737.

And so did SkyWest many years ago with a Metro III in Oceano, CA when they really meant to land in San Luis Obispo.

I think there have been quite a few other examples of this over the years.
P.J. Gibson 0
Would be interesting to hear the CVR tape. Apparently No CRM here.
Ken McIntyre 0
I can remember Republic landing a DC9 in Richland WA years ago. The pilots quickly took off and landed minutes later in Pasco. They may have never got caught except that mechanics noticed fence wire caught in the tail days later. OOPS. Four people lost their jobs over that one.

United landed a DC8 in Troutdale OR. years before that while en-route to Portland. The story about getting that aircraft back in the air makes interesting reading to this day.

Forgive me for changing the subject a bit but...

Many years ago I worked for a large regional carrier that put the wrong passengers on the right plane and in a separate instance, got the wrong pilots on the right plane. Talk about confusion!

About 25 years ago, a man in LA rushing for a flight to Oakland, got on a flight to Auckland, NZ. The English accent of the boarding agent made "Auckland" sound like "Oakland". And the boarding agent didn't look at the ticket carefully. About a hour into the flight the man commented words to the effect of "What happened to the Pacific coast?" LOL! It took him 4 days to get home.

Poopoo happens.
Lee Burk 0
KXUL, with a 5000' runway, is a little more than an airstrip. But cetainly not an excuse. What really blows my mind is that someone, somewhere in Colgan's management has decided not to use one of the most reliable, if not the most reliable, navigation system. Really, if you don't want to spend the many thousands of dollars for an installed GPS at least give them a 696. Since this is a pretty benign incident there probably won't be much media reaction but what if they'd landed long and thought they had 6500 feet. That extra 1500' would have been the difference beteen damage and death or injuries and life and no damage. Then the media would be all over it and the first question would be where is the GPS or why wasn't there GPS on board. Of course all of this conjecture is based on Chris Trahan's remark they they do not have any GPS.
Peter Nesbitt 0
Just another reason to keep the Tower open until the last commercial flight lands. And yet another example of why Visual Approaches that are not backed-up with Instrument guidance will get us all in trouble.
steven meyer 0
Any flight crew worth their salt woulkd not land at a wrong airport. There are so many ways to confirm your destinatuion-one is just being aware where you are. If the flight has instruments-and approach plates or a AFD- it is impossible to screw up, unless you are ill-prepared, Idiot. I have never laned, much less approached the wrong airport. With cross radial fixes, GPS's, you would have to be an idiot-which these pilots evidently were.

S. Meyer
Commercial pilot
ASEL,AMEL, Instrument
USN/USAF Retired
i have flown into both airports many times and although they are not far apart, the airport diagrahm on the Jepp chart would be clue #1.
LCH(regional) has multiple runways and taxiways and a much larger footprint than the Sulphur airport.
yes more difficult to see at night but once they got on short final, something surely did not look "right"
Had either pilpt ever been to LCH before? does the company do FAM flights? when i fly commercial, I avoid Cologan at all costs!
chris trahan 0
According to the Lake Charles newspsper, Pinnacle Airlines, Colgan's parent, says the same pilots had flown the same route the previous night. I am based at LCH and I have flown from Houston to Lake Carles a number of times at night. The rotating beacon at Southland appears to be brighter than the beacon at LCH and it can lure you into approaching the wrong airport if you are flying strictly by visual reference. That's why I'm careful to use GPS or DME to verify I am approaching the correct airport if there is any doubt. I generally arrive before 10:00 PM, when Lake Charles Approach closes, so I have less chance for error, but I still tend to back up my visual approach with whatever else I have available.
Come on! Use the GPS, not an excuse especially when PAX arrive at 1030 and need to get somewhere and have people waiting for them, not good as far as business! If they need a control tower, have the flight arrive at 959. Funny story though...
Wendell Smith 0
The article mistakenly list Continental Express as the airline which landed at the wrong airport. However, the correct airline is Colgan Air which operates Continental Connection with Saab 340s. Continental Express is owned by ExpressJet Airlines and flies Embraer-145s from Lake Charles to Houston Bush.
AccessAir 0
So the story goes, On the evening of 16 November 1967, Ozark flight 873 and FH-227B, from Chicago OHare to Kansas City with enroute stops in Sterling/Rock Falls, Moline/Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids and Ottumwa, mistakingly landed at Dixon Walgreen Field in Dixon, Illinois which is approximately 15 miles to the East of Sterling/Rock Falls. The runway was an extremely short 3,100 feet long, a whee bit short for the "Ole WhistlePig!!"
AccessAir 0
The Wrong landing of the Ozark plane at Dixon can be found here:
Stonesurfer 0
I can't wait to hear a detailed report about this. Especially how many hours of flight and hours of rest these guys have had recently.
J.A. Cochran 0
My only connection with the aviation world comes from being a consumer. As a passenger I had what is now an unrealistic expectation of what occurs when I fly on a commercial airline. I expected even the least experience pilot to follow basic procedures, and more so have may flight guided by air traffic controllers from departure to arrival. I am shock to read that a commercial flight can land at an airport with an unmanned tower. Is this rare or a common practice throughout the country?
preacher1 0
@J A Cochran: Very common, primarily on regional carriers at lower traffic density airports. Has been that way since the early 80's after the PATCO strike and Regan fired all the controllers. FAA after rehires and training stayed down on people
J.A. Cochran 0
Thanks Wayne for the feedback. With that information (commercial landing at an uncontrolled airport) it seems the hoopla a few months ago about sleeping air traffic controllers by the media and FAA seems a little silly or phony to me now. If they’re going to be outrage about that then they should take issue with the practice that allows controllers to close a tower before the final schedule flight has arrived. Just my two cent from a non-aviator.
preacher1 0
@J.A.Cochran: Tower time is FAA as far as contoller scheduling as any other job. Airline schedules are up to the airlines and subject to change. Times are well known to all pilots, published on a regular basis and there are standard procedures for landing at an uncontrolled airport, whether in a Cessna 150 or a 747
Andrew Stagg 0
@ J.A. Cochran: Agreed, the media hoopla with the sleeping controllers (as with most aviation incidents) was very silly. The FAA uses the term "non-towered" instead of uncontrolled and of the 20,000 airports in the U.S., only about 500 have control towers and even fewer operate 24/7. The rest of the time there is a CTAF (common radio frequency) where all pilots report their position. Instrument approaches are available 24/7 and most are designed to be flown without a controller monitoring them. There are also automated systems for reporting the weather and turning on runway lights. Landing at a non-towered airport is an absolute non-issue if the pilot is doing his/her job. I have done it many times, during the day at night and during instrument conditions.


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