Wichita Runway Shows Damage Where Misguided 747 Landed

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -- Damage is now readily visible where a wayward Boeing 747 Dreamlifter stopped and parked at the south end of Wichita's Jabara Airport.

On the evening of November 20th the Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, operated by Atlas Air, was on its way to land at McConnell Air Force Base. But the pilots mistook the lights at Jabara Airport for McConnell and put the wide body plane down on the shorter runway designed for and used by general aviation aircraft.

At the time of the landing and next day takeoff damage wasn't visible by airport operations personnel. But airport personnel knew the winter freeze-thaw cycles might bring a different look this spring.

Sure enough cracks are now visible.

Assistant Director of Airports Brad Christopher says, "The visual indications we see, so far, are just in this area where the aircraft parked and it was subsequently backed up and turned around for a 36 departure."

An engineering firm specializing in concrete pavement, hired by Wichita to examine the runway, did an inspection in December. Christopher says, "We hired the firm to come in, actually, two separate occasions because we wanted to catch a spring freeze-thaw cycle. They were in initially and then they'll be coming back again in June to do a second, follow-up evaluation."

Christpher says,"Jabara Airport was essentially designed for general aviation type aircraft."

At roughly 600,.000 pounds the Dreamlifter is about ten times the weight Jabara's runway was designed for.

Christopher says the Wichita Airport Authority is working with Atlas to get the damaged concrete slabs repaired. The cost is not known yet. No time table for repairs is set either but Christopher says they want it repaired before winter.

Posted by: Nick Viviani