Southwest Airlines Flight 1248Thursday December 8, 2005
The jetliner slid off Runway 13C at Chicago's Midway Airport, went through an airport boundary fence and crashed into two vehicles at a nearby intersection, killing a young 6- year-old boy. Heavy snow was falling at the time of the accident. The plane had circled the airport for 30 to 35 minutes before attempting to land. The pilots' failure to use available reverse thrust in a timely manner to safely slow or stop the airplane after landing, which resulted in a runway overrun. This failure occurred because the pilots' first experience and lack of familiarity with the airplane's autobrake system distracted them from thrust reverser usage during the challenging landing. Contributing to the accident were Southwest Airline's 1) failure to provide its pilots with clear and consistent guidance and training regarding company policies and procedures related to arrival landing distance calculations; 2) programming and design of its onboard performance computer, which did not present inherent assumptions in the program critical to pilot decision making; 3) plan to implement new autobrake procedures without a familiarization period; and 4) failure to include a margin of safety in the arrival assessment to account for operational uncertainties. Also contributing to the accident was the pilots' failure to divert to another airport given reports that included poor braking action and a tailwind component greater than 5 knots. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the absence of an engineering materials arresting system, which was needed because of the limited runway safety area beyond the departure end of runway 31C.