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Southwest Airlines 1248

Accident Case Study

I was a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago Midway about a month before this mishap and noticed the crew elected to use idle reverse on a runway I would consider fairly short for a Boeing 737. A month after the mishap I was on another Southwest flight flying into a longer runway when the pilots elected to use full reverse. The company apparently had a philosophy change. For the better.



Figure: Photograph of the accident airplane in the roadway intersection, from NTSB Report, Figure 1.

Accident Report

  • Date: 08 DEC 2005
  • Time: 19:14
  • Type: Boeing 737-7H4
  • Operator: Southwest Airlines
  • Registration: N471WN
  • Fatalities: 0 of 5 crew, 0 of 103 passengers, 1 on the ground
  • Aircraft Fate: Repaired
  • Phase: Landing
  • Airports: (Departure) Baltimore/Washington International Airport, MD (BWI) (BWI/KBWI), United States of America; (Destination) Chicago-Midway Airport, IL (MDW) (MDW/KMDW), United States of America


Southwest Flight 1248 was scheduled for a 14:55 departure out of Baltimore/Washington International Airport, but the aircraft's departure was delayed until 16:50 because of weather. After circling for over 30 minutes the crew were cleared for landing at Midway's runway 31C (6522 feet long). The crew choose to use the auto-braking system at "max". The approach speed was 120 kts and 132 kts by the time it landed. The aircraft touched down with about 4,500 feet of remaining runway. The flying pilot (captain) stated that he could not get the reverse thrust levers out of the stowed position. The first officer, after several seconds, noticed that the thrust reversers were not deployed and activated the reversers without a problem. The reversers were activated 18 seconds after touchdown. Noticed that the airplane was not decelerating normally, both crew members applied maximum braking manually. The airplane departed the end of the runway, rolled through a blast fence, a perimeter fence, and onto a roadway. The 737 collided with some vehicles and came to rest on the corner of S Central Avenue and W 55th Street. A six-year-old boy in one of the vehicles has died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Weather at the time of the crash (01:15 Z) was: KMDW 090053Z 10011KT 1/2SM SN FZFG BKN004 OVC014 M03/M05 A3006 RMK AO2 SLP196 R31C/4500FT SNINCR 1/10 P0000 T10331050 KMDW 090153Z 23003KT 1/2SM SN FZFG VV002 M04/M05 A3004 RMK AO2 SLP191 R31C/4000V4500FT SNINCR 1/10 P0000 T10391050

Probable Cause

"The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of this accident was 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.

See Also:

Situational Awareness



Aviation Safety Network

NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, AAR-07/06, Runway Overrun and Collision, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248, Boeing 737-7H4, N471WN, Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, December 8, 2005

Revision: 20120421