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Fri, Oct 27, 2006

FAA Investigates Errant Approach By NWA Airlink Jet

Plane Lined Up To Land On Closed Runway

A late-night mistake by the pilots of a Northwest Airlink CRJ last month has raised eyebrows with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Pensacola (FL) News Journal reports the Pinnacle Airlines jet lined up for landing on runway 17-35 at Pensacola Regional Airport around 12:30 am September 24... despite the fact the runway had been closed for repairs since June.

The control tower at the Class C airport had already closed for the night... but a controller at the Pensacola TRACON noticed the plane was on course for the closed runway... and alerted the pilot as the plane was about four miles out.

The plane circled the airport, and landed uneventfully on the east-west runway a short time later. But authorities want to know how the mistake happened in the first place.

Airport Director Frank Miller said the runway was obstructed with construction equipment and trucks... and that landing lights on the closed runway were deactivated. The pilot should have noticed that, he said.

NOTAM A0080/06 has also been effect regarding the runway closure since June, according to FAA records.

Pinnacle spokesman Phil Reed said the flight, which was inbound from Memphis, had been delayed more than 90 minutes en route due to thunderstorms... although the weather was clear in Pensacola when the plane was coming in for landing.

Reed added the plane's captain resides along the Gulf Coast, and is familiar with the airport. It is not clear if the captain or the first officer was handling the approach.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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