Southwest 737 Overruns Runway

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Southwest Airlines Flight 278 slid off the end of the runway while landing at California’s Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) at 9:05 am local time on Thursday. According to a statement issued by the FAA, the Boeing 737 came to rest in the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) at the end of Runway 8. No injuries have been reported among the 112 passengers and five crew members onboard.

Although the cause of the overrun has yet to be determined, the airport was reporting inclement weather conditions at the time of the event. METAR reports for BUR from immediately before and after the incident indicate the airport was experiencing heavy rains and mist. Reported visibility was about one mile with a ceiling of 1,300 feet. Winds were from the west (280-290-degrees) at between 13 and 9 mph. The aircraft was landing on Runway 8, suggesting it likely had a nearly direct tailwind.

Flight 278 was inbound from Oakland International Airport (OAK). BUR authorities reported that although the airport remained open, some flights were cancelled or delayed due to the incident.

According to the FAA, EMAS is designed to provide additional safety margins for runways where the standard 1,000-foot overrun safety area is not possible. The system, which the FAA credits with 13 prior saves, is designed to stop aircraft travelling up to 80 miles per hour. BUR’s EMAS was installed in 2002 as a result of an overrun at the airport in 2000. It was widened in 2008 and replaced in its entirety in 2017.

Comments (7)

Implement a "NO TAILWIND" policy at KBUR.. If not, then just except the occasional/reoccurring overrun and pray nobody gets hurt..

Posted by: Tom O'Toole | December 7, 2018 8:58 AM    Report this comment

I was once taught (by my friend who turns 50 today), dont think how could they, think what got them to that place. That is how accident reports make you a better pilot. The first just makes you dismiss the incident. The report places weather at 1m vis, 1300 ovc, wind 9 gusting 13. Oh, and at an airport SWA previously overran so you can image its part of indoc/local training to discuss the overrun.

Unlike airports you're thinking of, BUR's minimum visibility is 1 mile... on the ILS, RNAV-Y. Its higher for other approaches (RNAV-Z = 1.5). So visibility is at minimums for this airport. Circling requires 1500 or 1600 ft ceilings - so circling's not available. Assume OpSpec limits to 10mph tailwind... wind check - 9. OK, we're good, lets get on our game...

Except you missed, came in 5 kts over minimum and floated.... into the EMAS. In fact, they may have landed exactly where they land everytime and at the speed they land everytime... except the runway was wet...

Other options? Divert - a possibility, but weather officially within minimums... Chief Pilot's not going to be happy about that... Go around? You realized too late you were too late. [For those learning from this experience, think about going around when you cross the numbers 5 kts too high...]

So, think about the pilots and how you could be in that situation. It's within OpSpecs at an airport you land at consistently (Likely given the # of pilots I flew from OAK to BUR at the end of their runs). Seems like a busy day, but not a crisis. It can change in an instance. It doesnt look like they went far once they hit the EMAS. My guess, they almost made it. What now is a different question.

Posted by: Karl S | December 7, 2018 2:42 PM    Report this comment

"...dont think how could they, think what got them to that place."

Thanks, Karl, that's a nice change in perspective when reading an accident report.

Posted by: Kirk Wennerstrom | December 7, 2018 6:28 PM    Report this comment

I don't want to second guess the crew. But, I sure want the NTSB to do that. With as screwed up as our federal agencies are these days, I am not so sure the NTSB will do this serious incident justice, if even get involved at all, since no one was injured.

Posted by: Wally Roberts | December 7, 2018 7:55 PM    Report this comment

FWIW, the maximum tailwind limit of 10 knots is a certification limit, not an Ops Specs limit. Boeing offers a 15 knot tailwind "kit" for some models for $$$.

Posted by: Wally Roberts | December 7, 2018 8:00 PM    Report this comment

I'll leave the "HTF did that happen" comments to the investigators who get all the digital data off the weather systems, ATC radars, and data recorders, they'll look at speed, altitude, weight and balance and everything else and know how it happened. I hope they also replicate the water levels on the RY and run a MuMeter over it, entirely possible the coefficient of friction on the surface is less than it should be due to age, wear, reduced depth of grooving, contamination and/or grooves filled with debris, all increasing water depth and hydroplaning. More interesting is the EMAS, last time I saw it, it was essentially a sand mix/concrete like material poured in place with lots of bubbles in it, and as you drive into it, you sink deeper and friction against landing gear and ultimately belly increases the further you go. It is far better than hitting a retaining wall, or fence, or blowing right across a road with traffic. An abrupt, but survivable, nee, UNINJURED ending. If you gotta over run, a great system.

Posted by: jonathan swingle | December 7, 2018 10:15 PM    Report this comment

Dear colleagues, if the wx is just within limits this does not mean you have to land. If the thought comes to mind - "what would the chief pilot think" , boy! you really have to sit up and think that the CP's priorities are in the wrong corner. A diversion is a commercial risk that a PFI should be authorized to take. An overrun will always result is among others the question : "why did you not go-around?".

Posted by: Mauro Hernandez | December 8, 2018 12:13 PM    Report this comment

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