The accident was due to the overrun of the runway. The flight was first delayed because of bad weather in Chicago. Before the flight, the weather had been approved to be good enough for the flight. The timeline of the event can be best captured from 1833:17 where the airplane was assigned attitude of 10,000. At this attitude and time, the pilot was instructed to be on hold while approaching Chicago Midway Airport. The pilot then determined the landing distance from the performance computer.
The policy of Southwest Airlines (SWA) has a prohibitive provision of landing with a 5-knot tailwind. The accident pilot entered multiple instructions on the performance computer of braking action. The input instruction then directed the airplane to stop at 560 feet in advance with a fair braking action (National Transportation Safety Board, 2015). Due to multiple instructions, the airplane operated on the instruction of stopping at 40 feet in advance of the poor braking action.
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At 1903:44 the air traffic control (ATC) cleared the accident pilot to intercept the runway with an instruction that the breaking will be fine excluding at the end where it was to be bad. In case of misinterpretation, then overrun was a likelihood (Kanki & Anca, 2010). Landing clearance was then given at 1912:28 with proper alignment of the airplane on the airway. The accident pilot failed to engage the reverse thrust immediately after landing (National Transportation Safety Board, 2015). The pilot used the manual wheel braking system with no attempt of reengaging the reverse thrust. It seems the failure to engage the reverse thrust could have caused the overrun (Croucher, 2014).
The landing could be made safe on several conditions. One the reverse thrust needed to be engaged immediately after touchdown on landing (National Transportation Safety Board, 2015). In case of a mixed condition that affected the airplane, then there is need of using the restrictive mode either fair or poor braking system (Hitchens, 2015). When wind limitation is exceeded, then landing ought not to be authorized.
- National Transportation Safety Board (2015). Year. Runway Overrun and Collision, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248: Boeing 737-7H4, N471WN, Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois. Aircraft Accident Report NTSB/AAR-07/06. Washington, DC.
- Kanki, B. G., Helmreich, R. L., & Anca, J. M. (2010). Crew Resource Management. Burlington: Elsevier.
- Hitchens, F. E. (2015). Propeller aerodynamics: The history, aerodynamics & operation of aircraft propellers.
- Croucher, P. (2014). JAR professional pilot studies. Calgary, Alberta: Electrocution Technical Publishers.