Federal employees determined that pilot error was the root cause of a Delta Air Lines jet carrying 130 passengers landing at the wrong airport in South Dakota last year.
The flight crew had been warned that the two airports were extremely close together and possible to confuse. Investigators said the crew did not use all navigational information available to them.
The flight from Minneapolis was intended to land at the Rapid City Regional Airport. Instead the pilot landed the plane at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Guidance for landing at Rapid City specifically says, “These airports have similar runway alignment and can be mistaken for one another."
Before the flight touched down, the first officer asked the captain, "You got the right one in sight?"
"I hope I do," responded the pilot.
The crew realized its mistake shortly before landing, but decided it was best to complete the process due to safety concerns.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)