A LATAM Airlines Brasil flight almost landed at the wrong airport after the crew mistook a local airfield for their intended destination located nearby.
On Wednesday, November 14, LATAM Airlines Brasil flight LA4640 was operating from Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) to Sao Jose Do Rio Preto Airport (SJP) in Brazil. The flight is scheduled to last one hour and five minutes.
The flight was being operated by one of LATAM Airlines Brasil’s Airbus A320-200 aircraft registered PR-MHM. This aircraft is 16.2 years old and carries 180 passengers in a single-class configuration.
According to a report published in Aviation Herald, flight LA4646 was on its approach into Sao Jose Do Rio Preto when the crew reported to air traffic controllers that they had a ‘GPS mismatch’ displayed on the cockpit instrumentation.
Shortly afterward, the crew advised ATC on the tower frequency that they were commencing the RNAV published procedure to San Jose. However, at this point, the tower controllers sent the crew back to communicate with the approach controllers as the aircraft was too far out at that point to be talking to the tower.
Having resumed communications with approach controllers, the crew again reported on Sao Jose’s tower frequency and advised they were now beginning a 360-degree descending turn toward the airport.
Controllers in Sao Jose’s tower once more advised the crew to return to the approach frequency. However, this time, the crew declined, stating that they were “busy handling the approach” and stated they had the “airport in sight”.
At this point, with flight LA4640 on their radar screens, air traffic controllers at Sao Jose explained they were approaching the wrong airport. The flight was, in fact, lined up for an approach to Catanduva Aerodrome, some 33 miles away from Sao Jose.
At this point, and at 1,000ft above the ground, the crew of LA4640 initiated a go-around. The crew subsequently contacted Sao Jose approach controllers, and the flight was given radar vectors to reposition to the correct airport, where it carried out an uneventful landing a few minutes later.
After around 15 minutes on the ground in Sao Jose, the aircraft departed for the return flight to Sao Paulo Guarulhos without further incident.
While Catanduva Aerodrome features an asphalt runway (06/24) of 3,232 feet (985m) in length, Sao Jose has an asphalt runway (07/25) of 5,381 feet (1,777m) in length.