TAMPA — MacDill Air Force Base has updated the way it handles incoming air traffic after an Air Force cargo plane mistakenly landed at Peter O. Knight Airport in July.
The new procedure was established in "an effort to mitigate airport identification issues and further increase situational awareness in the vicinity," said Capt. Regina Gillis, spokeswoman for the 6th Air Mobility Wing, which is the host unit for MacDill and operates the base's KC-135 aerial refueling tankers.
The C-17 cargo plane, carrying Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill, was headed for the base when it landed in error at the tiny Davis Islands airport on July 20.
An Air Force investigation revealed several factors contributed to a "breakdown of flight discipline," including fatigue and complacency, the report said. Though air traffic control service was not a part of the problem, the report did conclude that the "frequency of errors and confusion at this pair of airfields suggests that Air Traffic Control might aid in mitigating this threat."
The updated procedures require crews to contact the base's air traffic control tower when they are within five nautical miles of MacDill in order to receive clearance for landing, Gillis said in a statement.
"This procedure will alleviate traffic arriving from the northeast misidentifying Peter O. Knight as MacDill AFB," she said.
MacDill routinely coordinates with all area airports, Gillis said, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration as part of the Midair Collision Avoidance Program.
Each year, an average of 16,000 aircraft fly into MacDill.