Southwest 1248 Accident Analysis

Southwest 1248 Accident Analysis

The flight accident that occurred in 2005 following a runway crash in Chicago Midway International Airport was as a result of the plane’s blasting into a fence and onto a road and hitting a car. In the specific car was a child who was killed while the passengers in the plane were injured and the operations of the pane, the aircraft had departed Baltimore Marshall airport and had delayed by two hours following unfavorable weather conditions in Chicago. The plane had been scheduled for a three-day flight, but unfortunately faced issues on its first day. According to the pilots they had received authorization to fly following the release of documents towards the same, but analysis shows that a third document was not availed to the pilots and it showed the changes in the landing winds and may have contributed in the plane crash. From the interviews conducted from the cockpit records and other accompanying evidence showed that reports on the weather conditions were missing.

It is clear that the cause of the crash was primarily as a result of communication failure and the pilot did not take the necessary actions in response to the incident as the weather was affecting the flying of the aircraft. Also, the new auto brake system was not functional. Moreover, a review of the system shows the pilots did not have any experience before the accident with the use of auto brakes as such any failure may not have been detected. According to the first officer on the plane, the insertion of information on weather conditions and the runway specifics did give a report, but it showed diversion on the landing distance which was less than the required variance.

The pilots were aware of the weather conditions, and the industry regulations were evident on the calculation of landing distance before the airplane took off, and although their assessments gave positive feedback, the stopping margin raised some issues. Moreover, the air controllers did not provide precise information to the pilots the evaluations on the runway distance indicate that the plane only went off the course, this was due to the weather conditions but not necessarily due to the pilots’ irresponsibility (Overrun & Flight, 2011). At one time, the pilots contemplated not landing due to the issues of braking action that they had received from the controllers and the calculations of landing distance but went ahead to land. Another issue that arose as a result of misinterpretation of information was the production of reports is that there were no routine operations that showed the changes in landing were not given to the pilots in time. As such, this could have contributed to the shift in landing distance without their knowledge.

On the other hand, the manufacturers are partly to blame for the accident as they did not comply with the industry regulations on the automatic landing distance calculations and instead, the braking reports for the pilots to action would have been compromised. The lack of experiences on the pilots’ side and the lack of clarity would have contributed to the assumptions on the reports generated. Moreover, the multiple calculations that they relied on could have resulted in misinterpretations that ultimately caused the accident (Overrun & Flight, 2011). Another assumption made concerning the crash was the reports that the report displayed on the landing distance was subject to changes depending on the weather condition. Furthermore, the plane manufacturers created it in a way that it would adapt and respond to changes and shift the tailwind effect. As a result, the plane may divert from its main course due to the poor weather conditions.

Regarding the landing surface, it had a poor runway, and a display of about 8 Knots may not have warranted a favorable position for the fight to land hence, could have contributed to the crash as it was not controllable from the pilots’ point of view (Overrun & Flight, 2011). If the plane went off the course, the pilots would have taken control of it, but it was not possible as the weather conditions interfered with their judgment. The interviews from the pilots and the cabin assistants assert that Thrust reversers were not deployed on time and this compromised the status of the plane.

From the safety board analysis, if the pilots took the appropriate measures and interpreted the risks in the right way, they would have countered the crash as they have noted the margins and alerted the controllers to determine the best course of action. The continuous assumption on the functionality of the plane’s automatic thrust reversers and the inability of the pilots to identify mechanical error and challenges affecting the aircraft that might contribute to the crash (Overrun & Flight, 2011). The weather conditions did not assist in the control of the plane; instead, made it difficult for the take charge while they noted the failure of the automatic distance calculations and this was as a result of inconsistent reports. On the other hand, the predictions on the flight performance and the alerts they received from the control were not compatible. Moreover, the operators cited that the communication failures and the misinterpretation of information led to the crash as the pilots over-ran the runway.

As a result of the analysis and the evaluations conducted by the safety board on the crash, it was important for the manufacturer to automate the plane. Moreover, pilots were advised to undertake an evaluation of the airplanes and the weather conditions as a way of determining the viability of their trip. As such, there were supposed to be constant communications between the controller and the pilots on the progress of the flight to ensure that every change that was noted were communicated on time (Overrun & Flight, 2011). In this case, the pilots would be advised on the best course of action towards landing at a secure position to prevent possible crashes. Other than the system and related procedures that a new system that had been installed and training had not been conducted yet, the safety board advised pilots against making assumptions especially when landing. Therefore, the maximum limit before a landing way to be adhered to at every cost to prevent accidents.

In conclusion, the crash by the Boeing 1248 resulted from pilots’ assumptions, communication breakdown, and strict manufacturing. The crash was avoidable if only the pilot took charge of the plane on time and they adhered to the set regulations while avoiding chances of a landing. The key problem that led to the crash became the primary recommendation, and the safety board asserted that pilots’ adherence to the set regulations and ensuring that they undertake tests before taking the flight was crucial. Moreover, the manufacturers were advised to create planes that allow both and manual overrides that would be used to avoid crashes.



Overrun, R., & Flight, C. S. A. (2011). 1248 Boeing 737-7H4, N471WN Chicago

Midway International Airport Chicago, Illinois December 8, 2005. Accident Report. National Transportation Safety Board AAR-07/06. Available at: Accessed June 29.