Entries in Southwest Airlines (13)


Southwest Airlines Plane Veers Off New York Runway

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A plane veering off the runway might frazzle most pilots, but not the one flying Southwest Flight 4695.

On a recording obtained by, the pilot calmly says to the control tower, “Tower, 4695, we just made your day very interesting, at least ours is going to be. We just taxied right off the taxiway and into the grass here. Right off Sierra and before Alpha. And we are gonna have to deplane the people and get something out here to tow the aircraft back on the pavement.”

The control tower is equally calm, telling the pilot he will dispatch fire and rescue.

The Tampa-bound Southwest flight veered off the taxiway and into the grass Long Island’s MacArthur Airport Thursday morning.

Passengers were forced to evacuate onto the runway. No injuries were reported.

It appears the plane took a misturn in the rain, left the taxiway and came to a stop in the mud. The plane appeared to be tilting to the side, ABC affiliate WABC reported. Some 134 passengers were on the 737.

According to the airline’s web site, flight 4695 was scheduled to depart at 6:15 a.m. and arrive in Tampa at 9:15 a.m. The web site has changed the departure time to 11:55 a.m. and has the flight listed as “boarding.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Breakthrough Radar System Helps Pilots Avoid Rough Turbulence

ABC News(WILMINGTON, N.C.) -- In-flight turbulence causes more injuries on an airplane than anything else, but a breakthrough piece of technology could help pilots avoid these pockets of unstable air and make for safer flights.

Pilots report more than 70,000 instances of moderate to severe turbulence a year. According to the FAA, three-fourths of all weather-related accidents are caused by colliding winds and temperature changes that shake up the cockpit and the cabin.

That is why flight attendants are always pestering passengers to keep their seatbelts on. In-flight injuries are expensive and cost the airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars per incident.

Rough weather rarely brings a plane down, but it does cause a dozen serious injuries as well as a half billion dollars in damages and flight delays each year.

But for the first time, a new 3-D radar system installed in business jets, and soon, fleets of commercial jets, will allow pilots to spot not only turbulence, but lightning and hail from more than 60 miles away. Southwest already has it in 19 planes.

Honeywell, the maker of the new radar, intentionally flew ABC News into rough weather over Wilmington, N.C., to demonstrate how the system works. As the clouds were billowing and the cabin started shaking, the radar screen flashed bright icons identifying lightning cells and hail miles away.

"The things that a pilot would not see with conventional weather radar are these lightning strike symbols, the hail icons," chief test pilot Markus Johnson said. "Both of those are areas that pilots need to keep away from."

Johnson said the older radar would only identify areas of precipitation, while this new radar can show the probability of hail. While lightning might frighten passengers the most, a hailstorm is what really causes the damage to the aircraft.

"It can be as large as a golf ball, and when that hits your airplane, it can tear right through," he said.

In a nutshell, the new system provides information that will help pilots make better flight decisions faster, Johnson said, "It allows me to concentrate on deciding where to go to have the smoothest, safest ride."

To find out how the radar system works and what happened when ABC News' Jim Avila flew into rough weather, tune into Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Southwest Airlines Plane Blows Two Tires During Takeoff

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Only hours after the aborted takeoff, a different Southwest plane -- this one heading to Ontario, Calif., hit a bird while taking off.  The plane turned around and landed back at the Sacramento Airport.  Flight 1166 was canceled and the passengers were booked on other flights.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A Southwest Airlines jet with 132 passengers on board was grounded Tuesday evening after two tires blew out upon takeoff from Sacramento airport. No one was injured.

Southwest Flight 2287 was bound for Seattle when its left main tires blew as the Boeing 737 jet raced down the runway for takeoff.

The five-member crew immediately aborted the takeoff, and frightened passengers knew something was wrong.

“I’ve been on a lot of planes…you don’t expect that to happen,” one passenger told ABC News.  “The plane was literally shaking back and forth.”

Initial reports were that the tires caught fire, but both the airline and airport officials say that did not happen.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Katie McDonald told local ABC News affiliate News10 that emergency crews were called in to hose down the plane, but just as a precautionary measure.

“There was no fire, there were no injuries,” Sacramento International Airport spokeswoman Laurie Slothower also confirmed to News10.

The 132 passengers on board were evacuated using a portable stairway, not an emergency slide.

“The passengers were safely evacuated from the plane using the stairs as they would on a routine flight,” Slothower said.

Southwest said the passengers were able to board a later flight to Seattle that landed safely around 10 p.m. Tuesday night.

Officials are continuing to investigate the incident and have yet to determine a cause for the blowout.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Unaccompanied Minor Ends Up in Wrong State After Flight Mix-Up

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- What was supposed to be a normal flight to visit her grandparents for the holidays turned into a confusing mix-up for 9-year-old Chloe Boyce.

The girl’s itinerary was originally supposed to send her from Nashville, Tenn., to LaGuardia Airport airport in New York, making a stop in Baltimore along the way.  Due to a fog condition, a two-hour connection in Columbus, Ohio was added to the flight.  This is where confusion set in for Chloe.

“Chloe often flies by herself to see her grandparents in Connecticut, or her dad in Rhode Island.  We always use Southwest,” says Chloe’s mother, Elena Kerr.

“Whenever she flies alone, we go up to a ticket agent, and the ticket agent goes over the rules with her,” Kerr said.  “We always go over how many stops there will be.”

Chloe knew that this time, two stops were to be made, with the second one being her destination in New York.  When Chloe arrived at the new second stop in Baltimore she got off the plane.

Kerr received a call from her sister who was supposed to pick up Chloe at the airport.

“Where is Chloe?” her sister asked.  “I went into panic mode,” Kerr said.

She called the airline, and after 30 minutes of waiting she finally got a hold of someone.  She was told that she was sent e-mails with the new details of her daughter’s flight.

“I never received a call or e-mail to say what happened to my daughter,” Kerr says.

The airline outlined their policy in this situation, stating that although it is atypical, they attempted to inform the girl’s parents of her new itinerary.

“Our unaccompanied minor policy does not include the contacting of guardians when a flight is delayed or rerouted but we typically do our best to keep guardians notified when a disruption in scheduled service occurs,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, we did not connect with the parents of the customer traveling in this situation.  We are in the process of conducting our own internal investigation to identify why the additional outreach was not made.  We apologize for any concern that the flight disruption may have caused.”

Chloe ended up spending an extra three hours in Baltimore.  Kerr says that once alerted to the situation, a pilot in Baltimore took Chloe off the plane and worked to make her feel at ease.

Kerr says she is debating on whether or not to let her daughter fly Southwest again.

“Southwest was very apologetic,” she says, adding that she has never had a problem with the airline in the past.  Still, she says, “no one has been able to tell me why I wasn’t called.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Southwest Plane Slides Off Runway; No Injuries Reported

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Officials confirmed Tuesday that Southwest Airlines flight 1919 slid off a runway while landing at Chicago Midway. 

The Boeing 737-700 carrying 134 passengers and five crew members was en route from Denver and scheduled to land at Chicago Midway Airport. 

Fire Department spokesman Quention Curtis told reporters the incident occurred at about 1:35 p.m. The plane finally came to a rest on a grassy area separating the airport property from the street, officials told the Chicago Tribune.

The airline says that "local officials report heavy rain in the area at the time the aircraft landed."

No injuries have been reported.  Passengers were deplaned with the help of air stairs before being bused to the airport terminal.

Southwest is investigating the incident and working with passengers to ensure they reach their final destinations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Southwest Airlines Flight 812 Default May Have Been in Manufacturing Process

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ABC News has learned the problem that ripped a hole in the roof of a Southwest Airlines jet on April 1, may have started way back on the assembly line more than a decade ago.

After the incident, investigators found widespread cracking in the metal, the initial thought -- metal fatigue, a result of the plane's 39-thousand takeoffs and landings. But now it appears it could be a problem with production.

The plane was manufactured in 1996 and investigators are focused on rivets, thousands of metal pins that hold the pieces of an airplane together. The concern is that, in the area that failed, those pieces were not held together as they should have been. Sources say some of the rivet holes were not sized correctly and that the two pieces were not fastened together tight enough at the seam. Over time it's believed that stressed the area and resulted in the cracking.

Even as the investigation continues, the damaged plane has been patched and it's expected to go back into service.

After this incident, Boeing ordered inspections of the nearly 600 similar 737's worldwide, but only 190 were required to have inspections right away. Boeing tells ABC News Friday that 75 percent of those have been looked at and only five percent of all Southwest jets were found to have slight cracks. Sources say most of those five planes were built about the same time as the aircraft that came apart.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Feds Order 737 Inspections in Wake of Crack in Southwest Jet

David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government on Tuesday will order emergency inspections on 175 737 airliners and is rethinking its approach to plane inspections after a Southwest Airlines jet tore open in mid-flight Friday night, ABC News has learned.

Inspections will initially focus on 175 planes around the globe that make frequent takeoffs and landings. Eighty of the planes in question are in service in the United States, most of which are part of the Southwest Airlines fleet.

The government is particularly concerned about older 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500 jets that have taken off and landed more than 30,000 times. Jets that have accumulated many flight cycles are apparently more likely to develop the sort of fatigue cracks that may have caused the tear in the skin of the Southwest Boeing 737-300 last week.

As the nation's planes age, more jets could cause concern and require inspection for such fatigue cracks.

Inspectors use something called eddy current technology, passing an electric current through an aircraft's skin to look for small cracks. If any warning signs are detected, more sophisticated ultrasound and X-ray tools are then used for a closer examination. In some areas, a plane's skin can be as thin as a nickel.

Inspections of Southwest's 737-300 fleet have already discovered three more planes with fatigue cracks, officials said.

Investigators have cleared 57 of Southwest's 79 Boeing 737-300 jets to return to service, but at least 600 flights have been canceled since Friday's harrowing emergency landing.

Southwest flight 812, enroute from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif., was diverted to a military base at Yuma, Ariz., after a section of the plane's fuselage ripped open, depressurizing the plane and exposing the sky to passengers.

Last night, another Southwest flight was diverted. The flight, headed from Oakland, Calif., to San Diego, Calif., made an emergency landing because of a burning electrical smell.

Meanwhile, the five-foot section of the plane's fuselage that opened up Friday on flight 812 is headed back to Washington, D.C., for detailed microscopic analysis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Three More Southwest Planes Found with Cracks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Three additional Southwest Airlines planes, not including the one that made an emergency landing last week, were found to have cracks on them, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Southwest said earlier Sunday that two other planes were found to have subsurface cracks, similar to those that grounded a Boeing 737 Friday after the roof of the aircraft tore open in mid-flight.  The airline later confirmed that another plane was found with cracks.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled as Southwest continues inspecting the rest of its Boeing 737-300 fleet.  So far, 19 planes have been cleared to return to service after passing inspection.  The airline expects to complete its inspections by late Tuesday.

Since Friday's incident, the NTSB has been investigating the tear to determine what caused the ceiling to rip open.

Board member Robert Sumwalt said, "It was not known in the industry that this was an area on airplanes of this number of cycles that those lap joints should be inspected."

Sumwalt added that the section of the plane that developed a hole in mid-flight will be shipped to the NTSB material lab in Washington, D.C. for further inspection Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing In New York

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An American Airlines flight declared a mid-flight emergency and was forced to make an unscheduled landing after experiencing a loss in cabin pressure Sunday.

Flight 883, a Boeing 757 that originated from Boston's Logan International Airport and was scheduled to arrive in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was diverted to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it landed safely.

There is no word yet on what caused the decrease in cabin pressure or whether any injuries were sustained.

On Friday, another American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing when a number of passengers and crew reported feeling ill and four passengers later fainted.

The flight from Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., was on its way to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport when the captain -- after learning of the reported illnesses -- lowered the plane's oxygen masks as a precaution during the plane's emergency descent into Dayton, Ohio.

The airline was trying to determine whether a loss in cabin pressure was to blame.

Also on Friday, a Southwest Airlines jet made an emergency landing after the roof of the aircraft tore open in mid-air. Fatigue cracks were discovered near the point of the break. Southwest has grounded dozens of planes for inspection.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Southwest Cancels 200 Flights as NTSB Investigates Plane Rupture

David McNew/Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Southwest Airlines customers continued to experience travel hiccups Sunday, as the airline canceled approximately 200 flights across the country.

The cancellations come as investigations continue following a ceiling tear in a Southwest Airlines plane Friday that left a 3-4 foot long hole in the aircraft. The plane had taken off from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and was headed for Sacramento, Calif., with 118 passengers onboard, when it was forced to land at a military base in Yuma, Ariz., following the ceiling rupture.

The NTSB is investigating the tear, as officials try to determine what caused the ceiling to rip open. A source close to the investigation tells ABC News that investigators found evidence of fatigue cracks where the plane tore apart; however, it is still unclear if and how this will factor into the cause of the hole. ABC News has also learned that the Boeing 737 plane involved underwent heavy maintenance in March 2010 after a number of cracks were discovered in the fuselage. Records show at least a dozen cracks were reportedly repaired during the maintenance work.

Southwest Airlines on Saturday announced that 81 planes would be taken out of service for inspection.

No customers were injured during the mid-air rupture on Flight 812 Friday, according to the airline, but a flight attendant reportedly suffered a minor injury upon descent.

On Sunday the airline issued an alert on its website advising customers that there would be “relatively few flight delays and cancellations.” The alert said that the majority of its scheduled service was not affected, but urged customers to check with the airline for information regarding the status of their flights.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio