Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 lands at wrong airport (under construction) in Zambia

Ethiopian 737 lands at the wrong airport in Zambia Photo: Boeing

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 accidentally landed at the wrong under-construction airport in Zambia on Sunday, April 4.

The Boeing 737-800, with registration ET-AYL, was scheduled to land at Ndola Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport, recently renamed Ndolo Airport as cargo flight ET-3891 from Bole International Airport.

However, accidentally the aircraft lined up for landing at Ndola’s new Copperbelt International Airport, recently named Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, which is under construction and located 9nm west of the current airport. The aircraft landed safely, taxied and took off again shortly. 

The pilots may have lined up for landing at the new airport as the new airport has the same runway orientation. The Ndola Airport also has a Non-directional beacon and VHF omnidirectional range approaches.

Video shared on the internet shows construction workers surprisingly looking at the 737 taxiing across the under-construction airport.

A Second Ethiopian 737 almost made the same mistake

A second Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800, operating a passenger flight, also almost made the same mistake, as reported by One Mile At A Time.

The second 737, with registration ET-AQP, was operating flight ET-871 from Addis Ababa to Ndola on the same day. According to the pilot, this plane performed a go-around from about the new runway threshold at about 50 feet before flying to the correct airport. The crew might have noticed the faint X-marks indicating the runway was still closed.

The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating this incident. This incident raises questions about whether there were issues with the navigation software or the air traffic control.

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