NTSB Blames 737 Crew in Chicago Overrun

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The crew of a Southwest Airlines 737 that overran a runway during a Chicago snowstorm in December 2005 had reverse thrust available, and should have used it, the NTSB said in its final report, released on Tuesday. If they had done so, they could have prevented the accident. The jet ran into a car on a nearby road, and a boy in the car was killed. However, the crew had inadequate information about the landing-distance analysis they used, and if they had been better informed, they might have decided to divert to another airport, the board said. The safety board's report calls on the FAA to immediately require operators to refine their procedures for conducting arrival landing-distance assessments and add a safety margin of at least 15 percent. "The urgent recommendation we issued today addressing landing performance is extremely pertinent to the safe operation of our aviation system," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker.

"As we approach the winter months we continue to push for acceptance of a minimum safety margin so that this type of accident does not occur again." The airplane rolled through a blast fence, an airport perimeter fence, and onto an adjacent roadway, where it struck an automobile before coming to a stop. One occupant in the automobile was killed, one received serious injuries, and three others received minor injuries. Eighteen of the 103 persons on board the airplane received minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. A synopsis of the NTSB final report is available online; the full report will be posted at ntsb.gov in several weeks.