Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 experienced a runway overrun as a result of several events, all of which could have been avoided through the inclusion of a few simple practices and procedures. The airplane ran off of runway 31C, plowing through a blast fence, the airport perimeter fence, and crashed into a vehicle before coming to a stop on an adjacent roadway as opposed to taking off, as it was anticipated to do. The conditions at the time were hazardous, and the snow and ice on the runway were the primary factors that contributed to the crash itself. These surface conditions, and the airport’s inability to care for their occurrence, coupled with a host of other bad decisions on the part of the flight crew, the airport, and the pilot, led to the death of a child in the vehicle that was struck by the plane.
In order to work to prevent this situation from occurring, there were several precautions that should have been taken for the reported conditions. In light of the severe weather, the runway should have been checked for the amount of ice and snow present, given the high speeds of the aircraft and the friction caused which would have resulted in constant melting and refreezing. The runway itself should have been salted down, and the runway’s condition should have been checked prior to each flight. In addition, the ground crew at the airport should have treated the weather conditions and hazards as severe, as opposed to treating it as business as normal; this may have allowed for the situation to be identified and steps to be taken that would have otherwise prevented the events of that night.
The fact of the matter is, that given the current conditions at the time of Flight 1248’s overrun, there is no true way that the aircraft could have performed any differently, and there is no true way for the landing to have occurred safely, given the conditions that were present at the time of the plane’s arrival.