File photo of the Volaris Airbus A320-233 (N505VL) involved in the incident. Image courtesy of Tomás Del Coro.
A major aviation disaster was narrowly avoided on December 5, 2017, when an aircraft mistakenly lined up on the runway, coming close to landing on an occupied runway on which an aircraft was preparing to take off. Delta Connection (operated by Republic Airline) flight DL 4231, operated by an Embraer E-170 (N823MD) was preparing to depart to Washington-Reagan Airport (DCA) on Runway 13R, when a Volaris Airbus A320 (N505VL), operating as flight Y4 880 from Mexico City, lined up with that runway, instead of Runway 13L, which it was assigned. Fortunately, the Delta Connection regional jet aborted the takeoff and exited the runway via a taxiway, while the Volaris A320 aborted its landing, entering a holding pattern. It landed safely at 1:25 PM, within its scheduled block time.
According to an Air Traffic Control (ATC) recording, flight controllers told the Volaris flight that they were "lined up on the wrong runway," while telling the Delta Connection flight, "Brickyard (Callsign of Republic Airways) 4231 cancel take off plans...cancel take off plans." Both aircraft obeyed this ordinance, with the Volaris flight executing a go-around, entering a holding pattern near the airport, and the Delta Connection flight aborting its takeoff.
In an official statement, Volaris said, "The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and in accordance with our procedures Volaris will conduct an investigation to determine the factors that led to this event." Delta has so far not commented on the status of its flight, operated by regional partner Republic Airline.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the incident. It remains unclear how close both aircraft were to each other at the time of the incident.