A pilot’s navigational error almost led to a fatal crash at Ben Gurion International Airport as an incoming plane veered from the wrong runway at the last moment.
The mixup occurred on June 18, with an Arkia Airlines ATR-72 turboprop carrying four crew members and 11 passengers, when the aircraft was spotted heading in for Runway 8 instead of the correct Runway 12.
It was fair weather and the decision was made for a visual landing approach. About two miles from the runway, the captain, while reviewing the pre-landing checklist, raised his head and noticed aircraft lights on the landing area ahead of them.
“The captain began to understand that something was wrong and immediately recognized that they were not aligned with the correct runway, number 12,” the investigation report stated.
“At the same moment, the tower controllers at Ben Gurion began understanding that the aircraft was lined up with Runway 8 instead of Runway 12,” the report continued.
The lights up ahead were those of a plane readying for takeoff, and had they not corrected course in time, 1.5 miles out, the Arkia plane would likely have landed right on top of it.