Boeing's 747 Dreamlifter Lands at Wrong Airport

  • Nov 21, 2013 9:43am GMT

An investigation is underway to determine why the heavily modified 747 cargo plane known as the "Dreamlifter" landed at the wrong airport in Wichita, Kansas.

The plane, operated by Atlas Air, was scheduled to land at McConnell AFB after a flight from New York's JFK Airport, but instead landed at the much smaller Jabara Airport nearby.

Jabara has no control tower and normally doesn't handle jumbo jets.

The Atlas Air 747 Dreamlifter is a modified 747-400 passenger airplane that can haul more cargo by volume than any airplane in the world. When fully loaded, the Dreamlifter needs a runway 9,199 feet long to take off, reports KWCH-TV. The Jabara runway is 6,101 feet. The difference -- more than half a mile.

But a spokeswoman for the airport authority, Valerie Wise, cited favorable weather on Thursday and the fact that much of the fuel had been used in the flight from JFK -- which lightened the weight of the plane -- for the conclusion that it was safe to take off on the shorter runway. "The engineers have been running calculations all night," she said.

By mid-morning, a tug had moved the aircraft to where it needed to be and a new crew had arrived to fly the plane from Jabara to McConnell Air Force Base. The takeoff attempt is expected around noon (1 p.m. ET).

The plane, laden with cargo for Boeing, is owned by Boeing and operated by Atlas Air, said Bonnie Rodney, a spokeswoman for Atlas. She said an investigation has begun into how the plane landed at the wrong airport.