ASIAS and SMS likely have already flagged Wrong Way Corrigan Pattern

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ARTICLE: Pilots often head to wrong airports, reports show

wrongairportWrong Way Corrigan, a/k/a Douglas Corrigan, was perhaps the most famous, or is it infamous, pilot to have landed his plane at an airport other than his flight plan indicated. Whether he really intended to arrive in Ireland rather than California as a stunt or not, the recent incidents of professional cockpit crew members, supported by incredibly sophisticated navigational systems, is worthy of note. Joan Lowy’s above linked article indicates that 150 such errors have been reported.

One of the reasons why the FAA and NASA created the Aviation Safety Reporting System is to examine such aberrations to determine WHY. John Goglia, a former NTSB Member, believes that the FAA and NTSB should try to find out the causes for such errors. The ASRS reports are ingested in a larger data base, Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing Program (ASIAS), in order to capture problems before they become accidents. If asked, it is probable that those involved in this powerful safety system are already determining the root cause.

Clearly there is not a sudden spate of pilots who cannot read charts or their navigational instruments. Human error is an oft cited reason for incidents, but somewhere before the records reached 150, the statistical analyses should have pointed to something else.

Ms. Lowy is a veteran aviation reporter and it is surprising that her article does not include responses from airlines. Given the visibility of these articles, but more importantly the statistical significance of these incidents, the individual airline companies’ SMS warning systems should have flagged this issue. It may well be that their analytical tools have identified this pattern and that management, the pilots and the FAA are already fast at work on addressing appropriate fixes.

It would be very surprising if SMS, working appropriately, did not flag this Wrong Way Corrigan phenomenon!

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