Pilots of Two Airlines Not Allowed to Land Onto Shorter Runway 18 at Airport in Birmingham, Alabama
At least two airlines have reportedly instructed their pilots to no longer land aircraft onto Runway 18 at the international airport in Birmingham, Alabama due to safety concerns.
A decision was implemented from officials at Southwest Airlines because a system in the cockpit or aircraft was alerting pilots that they were flying too close to terrain when approaching the runway, according to a spokeswoman for the airline.
The runway in question has hills at both the north and south ends of the runway due to the sloped terrain; lacks complete guidance equipment, which contributes to “trickier” landings for pilots; and is approximately 5,000 feet shorter in length than the main runway at the airport.
According to a report written by Mike D. Smith, an internal document from ExpressJet Airlines — a regional carrier based in Atlanta which operates American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express flights — warns pilots against using Runway 18 at the international airport in Birmingham because of terrain issues. The same report states that “American Airlines declined comment on whether it has specific instructions on runway approaches” at the airport.
The pilot and first officer of an Airbus A300 aircraft operated by United Parcel Service were killed in a crash early in the morning on August 14, 2013 when they attempting a landing on Runway 18. The aircraft ultimately clipped trees and crashed into the side of a hill during the attempted landing. The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States has yet to determine the cause of that incident.
The runway is not the only part of the international airport of the largest city in Alabama where fatalities have occurred in the past year. A cabinet weighing at least 300 pounds which housed flight information monitors fell on several members of a family of seven people approximately one year ago as they were traveling back home to Overland Park, Kansas from a vacation in Destin, Florida. A boy who was ten years of age was pronounced dead as a result of that incident.
The terminal underwent a renovation recently at a cost of $201.6 million — the most extensive modernization to the airport since it opened in 1931.