ANCHORAGE -- A Nippon Cargo Airlines plane preparing for takeoff from Anchorage last weekend rolled onto a taxiway instead of a runway, but air traffic controllers quickly caught the mistake and steered the craft back on the correct path.
The 747 bound for Amsterdam with a three-man Japanese crew turned around and taxied to the runway without further incident at about 2:40 p.m. Feb. 2, according to Nippon's Anchorage operations manager, Toshiaki Kuramochi.
Kuramochi said the 747's pilot told him he never intended to take off from the taxiway.
In late January, a China Airlines plane carrying more than 250 passengers and crew barely cleared a snow berm when it departed on an Anchorage taxiway instead of a runway. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. A report is expected in July.
NTSP officials opted not to look into the Nippon case because they did not detect worrisome safety issues or systemic problems linking the two incidents, said Alaska chief Jim LaBelle.
In the Nippon Cargo incident, Federal Aviation Administration flight controllers noticed the pilot making a wrong turn onto a taxiway that parallels the main north-south runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said Joette Storm, an FAA spokeswoman.
Controllers in the tower contacted the pilot and routed him down a different taxiway and to the runway, Storm said.
The intersection of several taxiways and two main runways at Anchorage can be confusing and congested, Kuramochi said.
The FAA is trying to determine whether controllers or the Japanese flight crew made the mistake.
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