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.


Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.

Popular Android navigation apps are just Google Maps with ads, researcher says

A malware researcher found that 19 free Android navigation apps on the Google Play Store were nothing more than Google Maps, but with ads. One of the apps asked for a payment to remove the ads, while some of them presented security risks.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?

Want a MacBook that will last all day on a single charge? Check these models out

Battery life is one of the most important factors in buying any laptop, especially MacBooks. Their battery life is typically average, but there are some standouts. Knowing which MacBook has the best battery life can be rather useful.

The best iPhone 6 cases for style and protection

No one likes a bruised Apple. Scratches, scuffs, and cracks on a new iPhone 6 are enough to ruin anyone’s day. Check out the best iPhone 6 cases and get some protection on that shiny new smartphone.

Is 5G as fast as they’re saying? We break down the speeds

We take a look at the kinds of speeds you can expect from 5G when the networks roll out. Find out 5G compares to the last generation of network technology, what the minimum and maximum speeds will be, and what it means for us.

Tizen 4 arriving on Samsung’s Gear S3 and Gear Sport smartwatches

Samsung is updating the Gear S3 Classic, Gear S3 Frontier, and the Gear Sport to the newest version of Tizen 4. Along with of some little tweaks to usability and quality-of-life, Samsung has added some new features.

Mobvoi’s TicWatch E2 and S2 are the most affordable Wear OS smartwatches yet

Quality smartwatches don't have to be expensive, and Mobvoi's TicWatch is the proud paladin of that philosophy. Mobvoi's new TicWatch S2 and are both available for low prices from Amazon and Mobvoi's website.

Save up to $950 with the best smartphone deals for January 2019

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $950.

Apple Pay coming to more top U.S. stores, including Target and Taco Bell

Apple Pay is the best way to pay on your iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple Pay support is being rolled out across the U.S. for a variety of top retailers, including Taco Bell, Target, Hy-Vee, and more.