NTSB opens Dreamlifter landing investigation

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:07:34 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 22 2013 05:01:22 PM CST

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into a Dreamlifter landing at a wrong airport.

The Boeing 747 landed at Colonel James Jabara Airport Wednesday night. It was scheduled to land at McConnell Air Force Base, although it is unclear why the pilots landed at another airport nine miles away.

Peter Knudson, NTSB Spokesman, said the agency is investigating to better understand the circumstances that led to the incident.

"Determine if there are any issues that can be addressed to improve the safety of the system," Knudson said in an email to Eyewitness News.

The Dreamlifter sat at Jabara's 6,100-foot runway overnight while waiting for clearance to take off. Boeing pilots took off from KAAO around 1:15 p.m. Thursday without incident. The plane landed at it original destination a few minutes later.

Boeing contracts with Atlas Air to fly the airplane. A spokeswoman for Atlas Air says the company is also investigating the incident.

Knudson said the NTSB investigation is expected to take six to 12 months.

"I don't have any additional information to offer at this point," he said.


A Boeing Dreamlifter jumbo jet has taken flight after accidentally landing at Jabara Airport late Wednesday. 

A team of pilots came in from New York to pilot the plane down the runway, which is normally too short to handle a plane of that size.

The Dreamlifter lifted off at around 1:15 pm.  Not long after takeoff, the plane landed safely at its original destination, McConnell Air Force Base.

No one was hurt and the plane and airfield were not damaged by the landing or the takeoff.

Brad Christopher, airport authority, said preliminary evaluations show no damage to Jabara's runway. A couple of lights blew over during take off, but it took crews minutes to replace them.

Dave Dewhirst runs an aircraft charter leasing company based out of Jabara. He said the runway is back to business as usual.

Christopher said it took the plane about 4,500 feet of Jabara's 6,100 foot runway to take off.

Bonnie Rodney, Atlas Air, said, "We are currently providing our full assistance and cooperation to the regulatory authorities who are investigating the landing and do not have any additional comment at this time."

Statement from Boeing on the Jabara incident:

A Dreamlifter bound for McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita landed inadvertently but safely yesterday evening at nearby Colonel James Jabara Airport instead. There were no injuries or damage to the airplane.

The airplane can take off from that runway and is in position to depart later today. From there, the plane will then land at McConnell Air Force base and unload, as planned.

Boeing contracts with Atlas Air to fly the airplane. We are working with Atlas Air to determine the circumstances.

Doug Alder - Media Relations - Boeing Commercial Airplanes


A Boeing Dreamlifter, scheduled to land at McConnell Air Force Base, instead landed at Jabara Airport late Wednesday night.

The City of Wichita tweeted early Thursday morning no one was hurt and no property was damaged.

Our photographer is at 21st and Webb where a tug has broken down. The tug is supposed to turn the Dreamlifter around. Emergency dispatchers told us Boeing hopes to fly the plane out of Jabara. Boeing has not confirmed the details.

Audio from says McConnell AFB gave the plane clearance to land, but the pilot landed at Jabara Airport. Jabara is 9 miles north of McConnell.  You can hear the Dreamlifter pilots talking to the McConnell's tower controller saying, "Ahh, yes sire, we just landed at the other airport." That was at 9:20 p.m. (CST) Wednesday.

ATC recording shows the pilots thought they were at Beech Field, not McConnell. Coordinates show they actually landed at Jabara.

Flight Aware reports Atlas Air Dreamlifter pilots have flown to McConnell at least 26 times since August 23, 2010.

The Dreamlifter is a 747 with a cargo hold custom enlarged to carry large parts for the 787 Dreamliner. It is 65,000 cubic feet. Boeing says Dreamlifter's cargo hold is the largest in the world, by volume.

A Dreamlifter is supposed to need a runway 9,199 feet long to take off at maximum takeoff weight, and 7,000 feet to land at maximum landing weight. The runway length at Jabara is 6,101 feet.

Atlas Air Flight 4241 was arriving from JFK Airport in New York. The FAA says it investigates "any deviation" and is investigating this incident, "which is standard procedure".

Boeing released the following statement:

"A Dreamlifter bound for McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita safely landed this evening at nearby Col. James Jabara Airport instead. We are working to determine next steps and will have additional information in the morning."