Blanking FMCs resulted in United wrong runway landing at PIT | Airlines


The United States (US) National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that a United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-9 landed on the wrong runway at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) because the crew mistook their intended runway for a different one. 

During the incident at PIT in June 2022, a United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-9, registered as N37513, landed on runway 28L, despite being approved to land on runway 28C. According to the NTSB, the pilots have claimed that before they began descending, the first officer, who was the pilot monitoring (PM), programmed the flight management computer (FMC) for the area navigation (RNAV) approach to runway 28C. 

However, local Air Traffic Control (ATC) then asked the crew to change the landing runway, first instructing them to land on runway 32. Shortly after, ATC provided the Boeing 737 MAX-9 pilots with visual approach vectors to land on runway 28C. 

After the crew told ATC that the airport was in sight, the controller cleared the aircraft to land using a visual approach on runway 28C. The captain, pilot flying (PF), confirmed he saw the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lights, but the NTSB has pointed out that runways 28C and 28L both had PAPI lights on the left side of the respective runways. 

A distraction during a critical phase 

Subsequently, the PF asked the PM to “extend the centerline of the approach from the next waypoint, at which time the first officer reported that both FMC control display units had blanked,” the NTSB’s report read. The report added that this took away the pilots’ “backup lateral and vertical navigational guidance”. 

As such, the first officer attempted to fix the blanking FMCs creating a “distraction at a critical phase of the flight that reduced the crew’s opportunity to ensure correct runway alignment”. After reviewing the incident and relevant data, the NTSB has determined that the FMCs had a dual reset when the Boeing 737 MAX…

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