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Horizon flight lands on taxiway instead of runway; FAA is investigating

About 3 miles from the airport, the crew positioned the aircraft for landing and attempted to activate the remote-controlled runway lights, said Horizon Air spokesman Ray Lane in an email. "The crew having not been informed of the non-operational runway lights, misidentified (the taxiway as the runway), lined up to it and safely landed," Lane said. ( More...

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Too bad Han Solo wasn't flying, it wouldn't be a big deal.
Peter Steitz 3
Company Dispatch gives the crew NOTAMS. Obviously, the crew didn't read them. Did this airport have an instrument approach? If so, why did the crew not set it up and use it as confirmation of an actual runway. Pilots have a tendency to not use All Resources and simply call "airport insight. Why did they line up with blue taxiway lighting? Were ALL the lights out? If so. no lights---no go.
greg lueke 3
Is it not correct, that when complying with FAR Part 121/135, that runways lights are required to be operative at time of landing (during nighttime hours)? If so, why did they land, or did they forget this requirement?
It is part of complying with the regulations & general airmanship knowledge.
and what were their alternatives?
Jason Homan 2
KLWS, KALW, KPSC, name a few.
jet4ang 5
Great! In order to read this entire article we have to submit to a payed subscription?
No, just the facts as they are.
I would think that when they were low enough to the ground for their landing lights to shine onto the ground, they would think "Crap, this isn't a runway" and go around.
wreckhvswings -1
Don't have details on prevailing wx conditions. Even on clear nights, taxiways are nearly invisible on short final, and difficult to identify when crossing the fence. Crossing the fence and touchdown is less than 15 seconds at 80 KTS CAT I. These guys are coming in at CAT III (>120 KTS). It's too late once you've positively confirmed a taxiway to abort IMO.
MultiComm 3
From my two 121 training programs I have been in, it routinely consisted of practicing "balked landing" or also called a rejected landing during the flare. It is very possible and not unsafe.

Also ... just to avoid confusion from those reading, don't confuse CAT I, II, III (weather) with CAT A, B, C, D (groundspeed on approach).
No it's not. Your landing zone is about 1500 feet down the runway for touchdown. What would you do if an aircraft, vehicle, or object was on the runway?? When you cross the fence, you should be able to see the runway environment & decide whether to land or not.
What would you have done if a vehicle or another aircraft was on the taxiway?? Continue the landing?? No I don't so. Upon idenfiying it not the runway, you do a go-around immediately. Both pilots did a big mistake. No excuse can explain this. Very poor airmanship.
Chris Graham 2
Both pilots must've had cranial rectal inversion. Or better yet, get their color vision checked. How? I lined up once with bridge street lights, they were white, caught my mistake, did a go around (helicopter) and shot the approach again.
Isn't there a color differentiation between taxiway (blue) and runway (white) edge lights? I am an aircraft buff not a pilot. Would you be able to see this upon approach?
Alan Ellman 5
I think you may want to reread the article. The lights were not on, which is the whole point of the story.
I was aware of that! Was caused by a flooding issue that shorted electrical box.
Tony Perez 8
They were inop.
Were all inop?
Alan Ellman 5
Yes. Apparent many of the posters are inoperative.
Charles Adams 2

Before you go setting everyone straight read crk112 below. The runway lights were out, not the taxiway lights. Get it?
Just the lightning for the entire runway.
If some lights are blue and some are white then that would be a color differentiation.
Bill Roettgen 0
Such perceptive analysis. What would we do without you?
The correct thing you do is go missed approach/go-around & go into holding & talk to SEA Center/ Departure & get things squared away. Knowing the Airfield lightning is required when making an approach to mins & you have to be able to ID those runways lights to call the runway in sight to land.
crk112 2
Yes, upon approach a pilot should be able to easily identify and differentiate between a taxiway and a runway based on the colors of their lighting. There's no excuse for an airline crew to make this mistake, even at night.
Eric Rindal 2
Crew was suspended
MultiComm 4
IMO, doesn't matter what happened the to the airport lights. Unless justifiably exercising emergency authority, there is no explanation for landing on a taxiway. The lights are so methodically designed (to the point you can determine the last 3, 2, 1 thousand feet be comparing the centerline lights - if installed - with the edge lights) not to mention how much brighter runway lights are compared to taxiway lights. With less than 1 hour back to SEA, it sounds a bit anti-authority and a little hotel-itus was at play.
In the immortal words of “Gabby” in Blazing Saddles, HURRIMFF!!!
If I were the aircrew, I would go with the Harrison Ford defense, he did it in broad daylight at a very busy airport and walked away with not even a slap on the wrist. Lets s e how the FAA handles nobodies versus celebs.
MultiComm 1
Bad precedent may just be the "ace up the sleeve" to get away with this one.

I don't think certificate action is necessary. I just say there is no excuse for the Hotizon crew to land on a taxiway considering what information we know about the situation.

The result will be whether or not it was deemed intentional and how cooperative the crew is in the investigation.

In the 121 world it may be remedial training but in Fords case it could have meant a 709 ride. All I could dig up was that he was required to complete "awareness training"
ADXbear 1
There's a dispatcher explaining what info he or she provided the crew regarding the field CONDITIOND, CT hours and esp NOTAMS..
James Carter 1
No, there is no requirement for the landing surface to be lit during night operations. 50 years ago I was taught how to use the moon and ambient light to orient myself for landing on un-lit runways. With infrared and low-light night vision devices available today it is much safer, but rarely done outside the military, law enforcement, or public safety environment.

Keep in mind that aircraft are required to have lighting for flight during night operations and that includes landing lights to illuminate the runway and taxiway.
Eric Rindal 2
Most of the Horizon fleet flying to Eastern WA is equipped with their "Fog Buster" technology. If so this would have shown the taxiway lights as two lines of heat spots which may have been confused as the runway lights since both would have normally been display as white on black spots. Since only the taxiway lights were lit, this may have been all that where visible on this equipment? Once one mentally decides that what they are seeing on a virtual display is what they expected to be seeing....landing on them, in this case the taxiway, may have been a foregone conclusion.
James Nichols 1
Click on more instead of newspaper link and it will give you the entire story.
jet4ang 1
CTAF is Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.
TWA55 1
Been there many times, a small airport and not one to be making mistakes. I would love to know what they were doing, or did on the approach. There is such a thing as minimums and RVR and the weather is still probably called by station agents. Many of these regional airports in the NW have a tower but they are usually closed after 11:00 pm or sooner.
The airfield lights were inop/OOS & the pilots still landed?? No less, on a taxiway?? What part of if lights are inop/OOS & your landing at night or in IMC conditions, did the crew not understand & do a go around to sort things out. No lightning at night or in IMC conditions is a real game changer. It changes your approach mins. Who's authority did the crew have to operate & what happened to the NOTAM or at least a heads up from Seattle Center?? Give me a vector Victor. Oh, the airport lights are out, oh hell lets just continue with the vector Victor. Why didn't the dispatcher advise the crew on the preflight paperwork/flight brief?? OOPS, BIG OOPS!!
Eric Rindal 1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Horizon air lands on Taxiway

Airport staff unaware runway inop. DASH 8 lands on Taxiway which remained lit.
Mike Mohle -3
Was someone unplugging the "Extension Cord" connecting the power cord in the tower to the runway lights (like in "Airplane")? Sounds like that would be more reliable than the existing system currently in place!
Not him again…???
justin chavez 3
There are thousands of night operations, probably tens of thousands, globally every night. Thats not reliable enough for you?
Mike Mohle 2
I did not mean that PCL systems do not work, but the system at the airport was flooded and apparently substandard.
James Simms 1
Ric Wernicke 0
Did the crew do their training in a Starspeeder 2000 or 3000? That could explain it.
Willie Wonka 0
In many ways I am surprised this type of error doesn't happen more often. Anytime you have human beings interacting with machines and electronics under all sorts of conditions you will have errors. Considering the huge number of operations everyday just within the borders of the United States the percentage of these events has to be very small. It leaves us the quandary of deciding if it is a system problem or is it a problem that cant be predicted or fixed with system changes. If it isn't a system problem the best we hope for is to learn from this event to prevent a duplication in our own operations.
James Simms 0
The rural airport in the Palouse region is the primary air link for its two land-grant universities, Washington State University in Pullman and the University of Idaho in Moscow. Both universities use the airport for jet charters from Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Air for their intercollegiate athletic teams.
gerardo godoy -4
This shows the shambles the American Airline Industry is in. From beating up people in the cabins to pilots forgetting where to land in an airport. High danger flying there.
Mike Mohle -3
Not really an airline problem, more of a facilities/infrastructure issue.
MultiComm 7
I disagree. Faulty equipment is not an excuse to do the wrong thing. No lights = No land.

The idea to make up ones own rules is absurd. As I mentioned above, unless exercising emergency authority (not enough fuel to return to suitable airport) then a landing should not have been attempted. Shoot in an emergency ... land on a unlit runway before choosing to land on a taxiway (at least you have approach guidance and more payment to negotiate should something go wrong with the plane.).
Its BOTH. No airfield lightning at night or in IMC conditions changes your approach mins. NO lights, its go-around time. Complete the missed approach/go-around per procedures, contact approach & get some answers. Simply. You don't have the authority to land unless an emergency is declared & this was no emergency. Poor crew resource management.
scott8733 -1
....cue the stale Harrison Ford jokes.
Tom Bruce -3
tower? is there a tower there?
Mike Mohle 2
Article said it was PCL, so probably not unless after hours.
Alan Ellman 1
"Pretty Crappy Landing?"
No control tower - all operations by self announce on CTAF.
Tony Perez 3
"Pullman-Moscow Regional. Horizon 2184 turning final for taxiway, full stop - Pullman-Moscow."
Factor of the matter is that it was likely a nighttime operation & no airfield lightning or VASI either!! Captain, GO-AROUND now.
Alan Ellman 0
There is no tower, but there is a "hut," similar to the ones in Nigeria referred to by Trump this week.
John Anderson 1
"We have no tower, sir."

"No tower?"

"Just a bridge."

"Why the hell aren't I notified about these things?"
Richard Loven -3
I’ve never done this myself but it could happen and has. What I don’ understand is how everyone knows about it. My guess is the only ones who recognized the mistake was the Pilots when they were landed and taxing in. Did they want absolution for their sins and confessed? If no one was hurt and nothing damaged, then the rule that covers this is. “What people don’t know won’ hurt them”.
Chris Graham 0
OK, so the REIL's were inoperative. There are still runway centerline lights (white), versus green taxiway centerline and blue edge lights. And let us not forget about the runway markings. There are real big white boxes (150' x 50') called aiming points on either side of runway centerline. Plus you also have Landing Threshold markings for 3000 feet on each end of a precision approach runway. I do have to say this though, They did real good landing on a 75 feet wide pavement versus a 150 feet wide pavement, at night, with no edge lights.


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