A flurry of reports on Wednesday stated that a Southwest 737-800 had ‘skid off the runway‘ at Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). This was not the case. Instead, the aircraft slid off the center-line of the taxiway, while remaining on the paved area.
Around 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, Southwest flight 906 was preparing to depart from BWI for Montego Bay when the aircraft suddenly left the confines of the taxiway, veering onto the unusable portion of the taxiway. Nevertheless, the aircraft did not enter the grass adjacent to the taxiway.“Yeah, we’re going to need a tug backwards,” one of the pilots told air traffic control after the incident occurred. The controller responded saying, “Okay, yeah, you guys went over the taxiway then?”
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From the crew’s angle, it was difficult to see if the aircraft had actually left the taxiway.”It’s hard to tell,” the pilot responded. The Boeing 737-800 sits roughly 10 feet off the ground and the view over the nose from the flight deck can make this assessment especially challenging.
No injuries were reported following the incident and all 143 passengers and six crew members were safely deplaned via airstairs and bussed to the terminal. Contrary to some reports, the incident was more of an inconvenience for passengers, not a life-threatening safety risk.
“The customers onboard the flight will be accommodated on a different aircraft and are scheduled to arrive in Montego Bay approximately three hours behind schedule,” a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement.
“As always, the safety and support of our customers and employees remains our primary focus, and we are working to get them on their way as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson added.
The aircraft, N8523W, a 1-year-old Boeing 737-800, stopped near the edge on taxiway ‘P’ before entering runway 15R-33L. At the time of the incident, airfield temperatures were recorded to be above freezing.
Prior to the incident, the airport says 75 flights safely departed from runway 15R-33L. In addition, the taxiway’s pavement was tested and met FAA standards soon after the incident took place.
“There was no ice on the taxiway or runway,” a spokesperson for the airport added. “BWI Marshall Airport operations employees responded to the incident scene, along with the BWI Marshall Airport Fire and Rescue Department, Maryland Transportation Authority Police, and Southwest Airlines personnel.”
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to officials.
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