Southwest: Third person authorized to be in cockpit

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Southwest Airlines says a third person in the cockpit of a plane that landed at the wrong Missouri airport was a company dispatcher who had authority to be there.

The airline and federal officials said Tuesday they are continuing to investigate why a Southwest Boeing 737 with 124 passengers headed for the main airport in Branson, Mo., landed several miles away at a smaller airport with a runway roughly half as long.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King says a dispatcher was sitting behind the captain and first officer. Dispatchers work with pilots to plan flight routes after considering weather and other factors.

It's not uncommon for airline employees to sit in the jumpseat with the pilots' permission, but federal officials are likely to consider whether the dispatcher's presence distracted the pilots.

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