26 February 2015

Southwest Airlines Plane Makes Emergency Landing At BWI Airport

Airline Has Never Had A Fatal Crash In Its Entire 44 Year Operating History

26 February 2015

By A.F. James MacArthur 
Agitator In Chief 
On Twitter: @BaltoSpectator 

BALTIMORE -- (MINS) Airport officials confirm a passenger carrying aircraft had to make an emergency, unscheduled "precautionary" landing Thursday morning at Baltimore's BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

After the story broke here, nearly five hours passed before Baltimore mainstream news media began reporting on the emergency incident.

According to The Baltimore Sun, while bound for Boston from Atlanta, the captain of Southwest flight 319 -- carrying 113 passengers aboard -- declared an emergency Thursday morning, after an "electrical smell" was detected in the cabin.

The plane was then diverted to making an unscheduled, emergency landing at the Baltimore airport.
A person claiming to be a passenger aboard the aircraft during the incident told The Baltimore Spectator via Twitter, an announcement was made of an unspecified problem with the plane, making the emergency landing necessary.
Rare among major airlines, Southwest has never had a plane crash and has only had a single fatality as the result of an accident in it's entire history of operations, since 1971.
BWI airport officials said no one was hurt during the incident and the plane was able to land and taxi to the terminal safely.
The incident was first reported on Twitter by Anne Arundel 1st Alert at 10:47 a.m.  A short time later through other sources, The Baltimore Spectator became aware and began an immediate investigation.

This investigation led to statements from several passengers and the official statement from the airport, confirming the incident.

Passengers were taken to Boston on a different aircraft while the one in question was grounded for inspection and any repairs needed.
File photo: Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 (N471WN) following runway overrun at Chicago Midway Airport in 2005. --  Photo taken and used with permission by: Gabriel Widyna. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

In a podcast, editor James MacArthur responds to readers who disagree with the use of the cover picture above.

Troublesome Timing

Although it has not been confirmed if the Baltimore incident was related, but on Tuesday and Wednesday, Southwest canceled numerous flights after voluntarily grounding more than a hundred of its planes due to a maintenance issue.

The airline released a statement, that reads in part:
“Southwest Airlines discovered a required maintenance check on the standby hydraulic system, which serves as a back-up to the primary hydraulic systems, was overdue on 128 Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Southwest immediately and voluntarily removed the affected aircraft from service, initiated maintenance checks, disclosed the matter to the FAA, and developed an action plan to complete all overdue checks.”
In 2008 the FAA proposed a $10.2 million fine over maintenance issues, later settling for a $7.2 million fine, for flying planes that had missed critical safety checks.

And in 2011, nearly 100 planes were grounded for checks after a 3-foot hole tore open in the fuselage of a jet.

The Dallas Morning News published a statement from Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King, along with a response to the situation from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Here’s a revised statement from King:

Southwest Airlines discovered an overdue maintenance check required to be performed on the standby hydraulic system, which serves as a back-up to the primary hydraulic systems. As a result of this discovery, 128  -700 aircraft were identified as having overflown a required check.

Once identified, Southwest immediately and voluntarily removed the affected aircraft from service, initiated maintenance checks, disclosed the matter to the FAA, and developed an action plan to complete all overdue checks.

The FAA approved a proposal that would allow Southwest to continue operating the aircraft for a maximum of five days as the checks are completed.

Approximately 80 cancellations occurred today [Tuesday] as a result of the events and the airline is anticipating a very minimal impact to their operations tomorrow.

The safety of our customers and employees remains our highest priority, and we are working quickly to resolve the situation.

The FAA statement:

Late Tuesday afternoon, Southwest Airlines notified the Federal Aviation Administration that it had missed some required inspections on the standby rudder system for 128 of its Boeing 737 aircraft.

The airline voluntarily removed these aircraft from service while the FAA works with Boeing and Southwest to evaluate a proposal that would allow the airline to continue flying the planes until the inspections are completed over the next few days.

Notable Incidents -- Source: Airsafe.com

Fuselage Rupture

1 April 2011; Southwest Airlines 737-300; flight 812; near Yuma, AZ: The airliner, with 118 passengers and a crew, was on a scheduled flight from Phoenix, AZ to Sacramento, CA, when it experienced a rapid loss of cabin pressure after a rupture developed in the upper fuselage about 18 minutes after takeoff when the aircraft was climbing through 34,000 feet. After the loss of cabin pressure, the crew was able to divert to Yuma, AZ without further incident. There were no serious injuries among the 118 passengers and crew members on board. The rupture was about five feet long and about a foot wide. The NTSB launched a major investigation of this event, and additional details about this investigation are available at AirSafeNews.com
Wikipedia entry on this event 
Other Southwest Airlines Events 
Listen to the AirSafe.com BBC interview on this event

Near Miss

19 April 2010; Southwest Airlines 737-700; flight 649; Burbank, CA: The airliner, with 119 passengers and a crew of five on board, nearly collided with a Cessna 172 at Burbank Airport in California. Flight 649 was inbound from Oakland to the Burbank airport (also known as Bob Hope Airport) and was landing to the east on runway 8 while the Cessna 172 had just taken off to the south from runway 15, passing over the 737 at the intersection of the two runways. The two aircraft came within 200 feet vertically and 10 feet laterally of each other at the runway intersection. At the time of the event, skies were clear with 10 miles of visibility. No one on either aircraft was injured and neither aircraft was damaged. 
Fatal midair collisions 
AirSafeNews.com report of this event 

Cabin Pressure Loss

13 July 2009; Southwest Airlines 737-300; flight 2294; near Charleston, WV: The aircraft was on a scheduled flight Nashville, TN to Baltimore, MD. The aircraft lost cabin pressure about 25 minutes after takeoff, while the aircraft was passing through 35,000 feet, due to a rupture of the fuselage skin near the vertical stabilizer. The rupture created an approximate 18-inch by 12-inch flap in the skin. The crew diverted to Charleston, WV, and there were no serious injuries among the 126 passengers and five crew members. The NTSB determined that the fuselage skin failure was due to preexisting fatigue at a chemically milled step. 
NTSB Accident Brief

Runway Overrun Killing Passenger In Car On Roadway

8 December 2005; Southwest Airlines 737-700; Chicago, IL:The aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Baltimore to Chicago's Midway Airport. After landing, the crew was unable to stop the aircraft on the runway, going off the runway, through the airport's barrier fence and onto a nearby street. At some point during this event, the nose wheel collapsed. The aircraft struck at least two vehicles, with the impact causing fatal injuries to a six year old boy who was a passenger in one of the vehicles. None of the five crew members or 95 passengers were seriously injured. This was the first serious accident involving the 737-700. 

Unruly Passenger Dies After Other Passengers Subdues Him

11 August 2000; Southwest Airlines 737; en route from Las Vegas, NV to Salt Lake City, UT: The aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City when about 20 minutes before landing, a 19 year old passenger became belligerent and attempted to enter the cockpit. While being escorted back to his seat, the 19 year old attacked another passenger. A number of other passengers subdued him until the aircraft landed. After landing, the now unconscious passenger was removed from the aircraft and he died several hours later. The medical examiner found traces of drugs in the dead passenger's system, but listed the cause of death as suffocation. The death was classified as a homicide, but none of the passengers involved in the incident were charged with a crime. No other crew members or passengers were seriously injured or killed. Because this passenger death was due at least in part to the deliberate actions of that passenger, this does not constitute a fatal event as defined by AirSafe.com.

The reporter is a shareholder under "street name" in the airline.

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As Director of the MacArthur Institute Center For Advanced Analysis and Critical Comparison; occasional media critic, researcher, independent investigator, and entrepreneur, A.F. James MacArthur is Baltimore's most well known independent journalist contributor. A member of the underground news network for over 20 years. During this time, he's been a frequent subject of attack by government under the guise of law enforcement. Although closely watched and followed, he's often boycotted from being given any credit for his work by mainstream media.
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