A Taney County man is suing Southwest Airlines over a 2014 incident in which one of the airline’s planes landed at the wrong airport.
Troy Haines, who court documents state lived in Cedarcreek at the time of the incident, is seeking damages from “mental anguish, fear and anxiety” as a passenger on a Boeing 737 that landed at the wrong airport Jan. 12, 2014, on a runway smaller than is normally intended for an aircraft that large.
Haines is asking for damages of $74,999.99. (A larger amount would require filing in federal court.)
According to the petition filed by Haines’ attorney, Haines was returning to Branson as a passenger on Southwest Airlines flight 4013 from Chicago. The petition states:
– The captain of the flight had never flown into the Branson Airport, and the first officer had only flown in once.
–The crew decided to make a visual runway approach, backed up with an RNAV instrument approach and a Heads Up Display.
– The first officer was not wearing glasses, as he was required to do.
–At 6:02 p.m., the crew visually identified what they thought was the Branson Airport, but was actually the M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport in Hollister, about a nine-mile drive away.
According to the petition, when Haines, who had flown to Branson many times, became aware they were flying into the wrong airport, he “was immediately struck with fear and anxiety over potentially crashing.”
Because they were landing on a shorter runway, the flight crew applied the speedbrake, thrust reversers and autobrakes, causing the passengers to slam forward and bounce around in their seats. The braking caused the overhead bins to unlatch and toss their contents around the cabin. The cabin filled with smoke, according to the petition.
The petition states the plane came to rest 300 feet from the end of the runway and that passengers had to stay in the smoke-filled cabin for two hours while the plane sat at the edge of the runway.
The petition states Haines suffered “mental anguish, fear and anxiety” for months following the incident. It states Haines suffered a panic attack that caused him to be removed from another flight before take-off.
According to the petition, because Haines was no longer able to fly from venue to venue as his job required, he was forced to find new employment at a “substantially diminished salary.”
The petition also states that Haines is expected to incur further medical expenses in the future.
By press time Friday, Southwest Airlines had not responded to a request for a comment.
According to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, the Boeing 737 landed with 124 passengers and five crew members at the county-owned airport. According to local aviation expert Michael Hynes, of Hynes Aviation Services, the Boeing 737 normally requires 5,100 feet to land. The runway at M. Graham Clark is approximately 3,700 feet. The Branson Airport runway is 7,140 feet.
The plane was safely flown out of the airport, without passengers, the next day.
Four months after the incident, Southwest Airlines announced that the flight’s first officer had retired.
Southwest Airlines operated flights to and from the Branson Airport from March 2013 to June 2014.