Apple Maps app bug directs drivers on to airport runway

Alaskan airport forced to barricade runway access ramp after drivers following iPhones directions ended up crossing the main runway

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The Independent Tech

An Alaskan airport has complained to Apple following two incidents in which the company’s Maps app misled drivers, leading them to drive across a main runway.

Fairbanks International Airport told a local newspaper that twice in the past three weeks drivers from out of town have driven through the airport after being given bad directions by their iPhones.

Angie Spear, the airport’s marketing director, blamed the incidents on drivers’ reliance on their gadgets instructions. “No matter what the signs say, the map on their iPhone told them to proceed this way,” Spear told the Alaska Dispatch.

In both cases drivers had followed precise turn-by-turn instructions that instead of guiding them to the airport’s car park, sent them along the access route used by pilots. The instructions concluded by telling drivers to “Turn Right onto Taxiway B”.

The first driver to follow these instructions on 6th September saw the passenger terminal straight ahead and drove across the runway. According to local reports airport security, TSA agents and police then “converged on the driver”, after which the airport contacted Apple.

“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” said Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the Fairbanks airport.

However, the faulty map remains up and on 20th September a second driver followed exactly the same route.

“These folks drove past several signs. They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate,” said Osborn.

The airport was told that Apple would fix the problem by this Wednesday but accessing the iPhone's Maps app and asking for driving directions to Fairbanks International Airport from the local area still shows the same route. The airport has instead opted to barricade the access ramp.


A screenshot showing the erroneous directions.