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Giant plane escapes after landing at wrong airport

November 26, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A truly enormous variant of the B747, known as the 747 Dreamlifter, has made what reports described as a “nail-biting takeoff” from a small Kansas airport after accidentally landing there the night before.

The Boeing Dreamlifter looks like a jumbo jet on steroids. It’s a modified 747-400 passenger plane that can haul more cargo by volume than any other aircraft. It’s the primary means of transporting major assemblies of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from suppliers around the world to the 787 final assembly site in Everett, Washington. Boeing says that this reduces delivery times “to as little as one day from as many as 30 days today”.Boeing_747-400LCF_Dreamlifter

That’s provided, of course, that it lands at the right airport.

In this case, the huge cargo plane, one of just four in the world, was flying from New York’s Kennedy International Airport to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas. The plane, operated by Atlas Air, landed by mistake at Colonel James Jabara Airport, which is near McConnell but smaller. Its runway is 6100 feet long (1859 metres) and not designed to handle jumbo jets.

Reports said the pilot was “surprised” to be informed by an air traffic controller that he had landed at the wrong airport. “Uh, yes sir, we just landed at the other airport,” he said.

Atlas Air brought in a tug to turn the plane around; its engineers calculated it was safe to take off and the plane did so. Fortunately, there was a headwind.

Flown as usual by a two-person crew, with no passengers, the giant Dreamlifter lifted into the air in cold and rainy weather and flew to the right airport.

Written by : Peter Needham

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