Whoops: Glitch in Apple Maps Keeps Telling Drivers to Cross an Airport Runway

Bill Abbott, Flickr

Since the advent of GPS and the access to it on our smartphones, many of us have completely given up on doing any navigating ourselves. We set our destination, we press “route” and we sit back and do whatever the nice voice tells us to do. No matter where it takes us.

But a recent glitch in Apple maps might have you rethinking that kind of behavior. Fairbanks International Airport had to close an access route because not only one, but two people, were so blindly following directions that they followed a taxiway and crossed a runway before they realized what they were doing.

Apple has temporarily fixed the problem by having a “not available” message pop up for the route. The company has gotten a lot of flack for previous map issues, and after buying up several map applications, CEO Tim Cook has promised that Apple is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

While we can all get mad at our iPhones for not giving proper instructions, just because we have access to GPS we shouldn’t lose our common sense. Pay attention when you drive, and if you find yourself nearing an airport runway, consider making a U-turn.

Photo Of The Day: Runway Traffic

Photo of the day - Jakarta runway traffic
We here at Gadling are airplane nerds. We take pictures of the view from the gate, our inflight meals, and even take portraits in the bathroom. Even my daughter has become an airplane nerd before the age of 2, stopping in her tracks and pointing to the sky at the sight of a plane flying over. Naturally, this Instagram shot caught my eye, for the view from the wing of runway traffic at Jakarta airport and variety of planes in the queue. An airplane nerd might look at this and start daydreaming about where the other planes are going, how spacious their seats are, and what they might be having for lunch.

Share your best travel photos in the Gadling Flickr pool or with us on Instagram mentioning @gadlingtravel and adding hashtag #gadling to be featured as a Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: LaurenIrons]

Cockpit Chronicles: A Landing Fit For A King

Harriet Baskas from StuckatTheAirport.com asked a few of us to identify the “scariest airports” as seen through the eyes of pilots. I gave her a list of “challenging” airports instead. I told her about New York’s LaGuardia and Washington, D.C.’s Reagan airports but I wondered if I should have mentioned Eek or Nightmute, two of my personal favorites from flying in Alaska, that attract only a few local travelers.

In the end, LaGuardia, Reagan and Orange County, in Santa Ana, California, made the cut in her article. I couldn’t really disagree with the choices. All three are short runways and each one has at least one unique departure or arrival procedure that requires a bit of piloting skill.

But do pilots worry, or get scared when flying into these places? I haven’t seen any evidence to support that. Do we feel some pressure? Sure.

A recent LaGuardia landing is a good example. Since finishing my initial operating experience (IOE) as a new captain on the MD-80, I hadn’t flown into LaGuardia for over a month. I managed to get two or three landings there with the instructor giving me the IOE training, but most of my subsequent trips had been out of Newark, another airport that’s part of my home base.

Finally, after finishing a three-day trip with layovers in Cleveland and Albuquerque, I’d get my first landing back at the USS LaGuardia. We joke about its short length, but it really isn’t much worse than the shortest runway in Boston, Chicago or San Diego. And as a co-pilot, I had flown into LGA many times. So why the pressure?

It might come as a surprise to some, but most pilots don’t constantly think about the responsibility that comes with flying a planeload of passengers while they’re flying. I suppose it’s because, in a selfish way, a passenger’s safety is no more important than my own, and this tends to be enough to ensure that the airplane and its occupants are flown in a safe way.

But I do have one recurring thought that goes through my mind during the more challenging times. Because of the hundreds of accident reports we’ve read that never fail to leave an impression, a little voice in my head can often be heard critiquing every decision or action.

And especially when things begin to go wrong on a flight, either mechanically, or because of weather or poor decision-making, that little voice in your head begins to craft your own accident report. And when you start hearing excerpts in your head, such as “captain elected to take off from the shorter, ice-covered runway to save time as the flight had been delayed” you tend to step back and re-think your decisions.

During my first LaGuardia landing as a captain, these type of thoughts were going through my head. Nothing was out of the ordinary – the weather was clear and while it was dark, the visibility was excellent.

But this time, it wasn’t an NTSB accident report that I was hearing; it was a newspaper headline because that night I had royalty aboard the flight.Jerry Lewis was flying in seat 2F. I could already hear not only the accident report, but the newspaper headlines. “The King of Comedy, involved in airline accident – new captain making his first landing into short New York runway.”

A double-blink and a glance over at my co-pilot, Mark, quickly brought me back into the present situation. I had briefed Mark on the turn-off point I intended to use, the approach we’d be flying, and the final flaps we’d select (all of them, or 40 degrees). In my mind the touchdown point was visualized, and we were now slowed to our approach speed. Really, what could go wrong?

“Lewis, who was returning from a performance in Las Vegas, had connected in Chicago for the doomed flight back to LaGuardia.”

Oh, stop it. This is just another landing. OK, so yes, there was a bit of a crosswind at 14 knots, but that’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

“50, 40, 30, 20, 10 …” The electronic radio altimeter called out as we crossed over from water to runway, punctuated by a nice ‘thunk.’ It wasn’t a roll-it-on-greaser, but the landing was on speed and right at the touchdown point at about 1,000 feet down the 7,000-foot runway, leaving more than a mile to slow down smoothly.

After the flight, I smiled at how easy it was to think up dreadful headlines on the approach, which was especially ironic, since I struggle to put a title on my “Cockpit Chronicles” posts for Gadling.

As we were finishing up the parking checklist, Mr. Lewis poked his head inside the door and said, “Thanks for the great flight, guys.”

Some landings you’ll never forget, and this was just one of them.

[Photo credit: Kent Wien]

Related: Kent’s favorite and least favorite runways.

Cockpit Chronicles” takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as a captain on the MD-80 based in New York. Have any questions for Kent? Check out the “Cockpit Chronicles” Facebook page or follow Kent on Twitter @veryjr.

Video Captures A Day’s Worth Of Airplane Arrivals At San Diego International

Remember that New York Magazine cover by Ryu Ho-Yeol showing the departure of a score of aircraft from a German runway? It’s actually a composite image stitching all of the aircraft together, and we’ve now the same thing in video format.

Over the Black Friday weekend, filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker captured every single aircraft landing on one runway at San Diego International airport and merged them into one composite piece of film. It’s an impressive task when you consider the moving background and the number of clips involved. Take a look at the impressive shot above.

The World’s Worst Airport Job

My old friend Lauri, who happens to be a pilot for Finnair, just snapped a photo of what might just be the worst possible job in any airport in the world: runway monitor. Indira Gandhi International Airport is the largest airport in India and a critical hub for scores of airlines passing through the Asian continent. With so much traffic passing through its three runways, debris is bound to collect, so the pathways have to be carefully monitored; as Air France 4590 illustrated, even a small strip of metal can be catastrophic for a passing aircraft.

In New Delhi, the best way to monitor runways seems to be to station someone out on the field. The poor guy in the photo above has only a tiny shanty to protect him from the 104°F (40°C) heat, constant noise and ubiquitous jet fumes. And who knows where the bathroom is.

The only bright side? He’s probably got some great airplane photos for his airliners.net photo page.