Apple Maps error leads to drivers crossing runway of international airport

apple maps error alaska

If you’re a pilot hurtling down the runway at great speed just prior to take-off, there are certain things you don’t want to see.

You don’t want to see a flock of birds lifting off the ground at the same time as you (possible); you definitely don’t want to see an elephant that’s escaped from the local zoo stepping out in front of you (unlikely); and you most certainly don’t want to see a car appear on the runway driven by someone looking confusedly at their iPhone (possible if you’re flying out of Alaska’s Fairbanks International Airport).

Yes, folks, it’s been a while since any ‘fail’ stories regarding Apple Maps hit the headlines, but here’s a new one that we thought you might like to hear about – especially if you’re a pilot that uses the aforementioned airport.

Remember, runways are for planes

The problem is, the app’s turn-by-turn directions have been leading some drivers onto one of the airport’s taxiways. If that wasn’t bad enough, at least two drivers in the last three weeks have driven from the taxiway across the runway to get to the main terminal building. Keep in mind, this is an airport that sees some pretty big aircraft flying in and out, including Boeing 737s.

Though the flaw in the supplied directions is obviously highly troubling, you’d think those involved might’ve thought something was up when they found themselves on one of the airport’s taxiways alongside, y’know, planes ‘n’ things.

“These folks drove past several signs,” Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the airport, told Alaska Dispatch. “They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate.”

apple maps airport

Alaska Dispatch described the directions as “specific”, instructing drivers “to go to Taxiway Bravo, shown as ‘Taxiway B’ on the satellite image in the app.” The directions didn’t, however, suggest crossing the main runway.

Fearing a serious incident, the airport authorities contacted Apple immediately after the first runway crossing on September 6 to report the flaw. The Cupertino company said it would issue a fix, but last Friday another driver ended up on the taxiway prior to making their way across the runway.

Consequently, the airport issued a notice to pilots warning them of oncoming traffic. “Please remain vigilant when on the east ramp,” it said. “Watch for drivers who appear unfamiliar and report them to the airport.” It also closed part of an aircraft access route in an effort to prevent drivers ending up on the taxiway.

Apple appears to have finally disabled directions to the airport, which is good news for pilots but bad news for iPhone-equipped out-of-town travelers trying to find their way there….but hey, there’s always Google Maps.

Maps mishaps

When it launched exactly a year ago, Apple Maps was panned by many for mislabeling locations and lacking detailed information.

In Australia, for example, police had to carry out several rescue missions for people who became lost in one of the country’s national parks after using the app.

It was in such a bad state that Tim Cook felt moved to issue a letter of apology for the misstep.

In the past 12 months, however, the company has been rolling out updates to improve its usability, though clearly it still has some work to do – especially when it comes to Fairbanks International Airport.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Gaming

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ parachutes onto PlayStation 4 on December 7

Following months of speculation, PUBG Corp. has announced that PUBG is coming to PS4 on December 7. The PS4 version includes all three maps and major features, and you can get some PlayStation-themed apparel items by pre-ordering.
Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.
Apple

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.
Mobile

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

With style and feature upgrades, Misfit's next-generation Vapor 2 gets it right

Misfit’s next-generation smartwatch, the Vapor 2, packs built-in GPS, a heart-rate sensor, and more, into a beautiful design that starts from $250. We take a closer look at the company's latest device.
Mobile

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Mobile

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.
Deals

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Computing

The MacBook is smaller, the MacBook Air is faster, but which is better?

This year, Apple's MacBook Air got a powerful internal upgrade, but the redesign makes it slimmer and lighter. So should you get the MacBook Air over the MacBook? We'll compare both notebook's major features and help you decide.
Mobile

Best iPhone 7 Plus screen protectors to shield your big, beautiful display

Cracked screens are expensive to replace. Fortunately for you, we've rounded up what's available in terms of protection for Apple's large iPhone 7 Plus. Here are the best screen protectors you can buy.
Mobile

New sensor from L’Oréal tracks UV exposure to keep your skin safe from the sun

L'Oréal has announced a new wearable sensor that attaches to your clothing and can track ultraviolet light. The sensor uses NFC instead of Bluetooth -- meaning it doesn't need a battery to work properly.