Southwest B737 skids off runway, nearly avoids slide onto highway
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, operating a domestic flight in California, narrowly avoided tragedy this Thursday, December 6, 2018, when upon landing at the Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR) it skidded off a runway sliding into crushable concrete blocks, which stopped the aircraft just a few feet from a fence and a major highway.
Flight WN278, which had taken off from the Oakland International Airport (OAK) in California at 8:40 am local time, was carrying 112 passengers and five crew. It was scheduled to land at the Burbank airport at 9:20 am, as FlightRadar24 data indicates.
Landing in heavy rain, the 737-700 (reg. N752SW) rolled off runway 08 and was stopped by the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) at the end of the landing strip, Aviation-safety.net reports.
The EMAS is a safety system specifically designed for runway excursions. It uses crushable concrete placed at the end of a runway to hinder an out-of-control aircraft and can typically stop an aircraft travelling as fast as 80mph (129km/h). The tires of the aircraft sink into the light-weight material and the plane decelerates as it rolls through the crushable material.
In this incident, the EMAS helped to prevent the 737 from crashing through a fence and onto Hollywood Way, which is a busy six-lane road next to the airport, CNN writes. No one was injured in the incident, unlike the Southwest accident in 2000, which left 43 people injured.
Southwest Airlines resumed operations to/from Burbank later in the day. “Our focus remains on our Customers and Crew who were aboard Flight 278 from Oakland and remain thankful that there were no reported injuries among the 112 Customers and five Crew members,” the carrier stated in an official press release on December 6.
“ […] we are also in the process of conducting a damage assessment and working to remove the aircraft from the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) located at the end of Runway 8/26,” the statement reads.
Interestingly, this latest incident occurred on the same Burbank runway as the March 2000 accident, when a Southwest 737-300 overshot its landing, and did plow through a fence, skidding to a stop in the middle of a street, just 39 feet from a gas station, Bloomberg reports.
The concrete material was installed at the Burbank airport after that accident, and today it is installed at the ends of 106 runways at 63 airports in the U.S. There are also plans to install seven more EMAS at six additional airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
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