Looks like Apple’s Maps app is in the spotlight again, as it is directing folks directly across a taxiway where airplanes take off in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Alaska Dispatch reports that at least two out-of-town drivers relying on Apple’s navigation system for turn-by-turn directions to the Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) were directed across the runway to the airport ramp side of the passenger terminal.
That could be pretty dangerous if a plane was taking off or landing.
Airport marketing director Angie Spear noted that drivers place way too much faith in electronic navigation systems. “No matter what the signs say,” she said, “the map on their iPhone told them to proceed this way.”
The directions in Maps were very specific, routing drivers via an access route typically used by general aviation pilots to get onto the East Ramp in Fairbanks, which is located directly across from the main airport terminal. The directions finish up by telling drivers to drive to Taxiway Bravo, though they do avoid taking drivers directly across the main runway.
However, once drivers drove across Taxiway B, it’s a short, visually convenient route to drive across to the other side of the main runway. The TSA, airport personnel, and police converged on a rental car on September 6. The airport complained via the attourney general’s office to Apple, but the issue remains.
“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it,” said thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” said airport chief of operations Melissa Osborn.
It happened again on September 20, and the airport took steps to close the access route from the external roads with barricades and notices to pilots and other air personnel.
The airport has been told that Apple will remedy the Map directions by Wednesday.