Alaskan Airlines Jet Lands On Taxiway

  • Dec 31, 2015 6:42am GMT

Earlier this month an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 flying from Chicago O'Hare was making an ILS approach to Seattle's Sea-Tac runway 16R and was cleared to land. The tower then offered a visual swing over to runway 16C which the crew opted to accept but aligned with taxiway 'T' in between the runways and continued for a safe landing on the taxiway. There was no other traffic on taxiway T at the time. Tower, maintaining routine communication, then cleared the aircraft to cross runway 16L, the crew read that clearance back after a slight hesitation.

(VIDEO CBS TV: cockpit ATC audio below)

Alaska Airlines confirmed their flight AS-27 landed on taxiway T on Dec 19th 2015.

"This is not a new problem at Sea-Tac. There have been cases going back to the 1990s of aircraft inadvertently landing on 'taxiway tango,'" aviation safety expert Todd Curtis told USA Today. Curtis says he doesn't believe there is a problem with the layout at Sea-Tac Airport but the investigation of this incident may call for changes.

There have been 4 other such landings at the airport. Sea-Tac officials say the last time it happened was in 2004, before the addition of the third runway. They say the markings and size of the taxiway are different than those of the actual runways, which include distinct markings. There have been about 1.75 million aircraft landings since the 2004 incident.

Although it's unlikely any of the passengers were aware of the problem both the FAA and Alaska Airlines have launched investigations. Standard penalties per FAA Order 2150.3b Fig B-2-D 6(h) Air carrier operations, landing, deviating from clearance is a 30 to 90 day certificate suspension.