- Dec 6, 2004
smh.com.au said:Child killed in airliner crash
December 9, 2005 - 3:20PM
A jetliner trying to land in heavy snow slid off a runway at Chicago's Midway International Airport, crashed through the boundary fence and slid into a busy street, hitting one vehicle and pinning another beneath it.
A child in one of the vehicles was killed.
Two passengers on the Boeing 737 suffered minor injuries, and eight people in the two vehicles were injured, authorities said. The child was dead on arrival at the hospital, a spokeswoman said.
Two adults and two other children were at the hospital, their conditions ranging from serious to good, she said.
Passenger Mike Abate, 35, of suburban Milwaukee said after the landing he saw a father carrying an injured child and other people being taken away in an ambulance.
"That was the toughest part. We were safe on the plane, but the toughest part was to realise that someone was under the belly of the plane," Abate said.
Midway Airport - which is about 16km from downtown Chicago - was closed indefinitely after the accident.
Ninety-eight passengers and five crew members were on board Southwest Airlines Flight 1248.
Passenger Larry Vazzano, 54, of the Baltimore area said the landing seemed normal at first.
"There was a bump. I saw snow rush over the wing, then there was a big bump," Vazzano said. "I braced myself on the seat in front of me."
Another passenger, Katie Duda, told a local TV station: "It got really bumpy, and then a big crashing sound. The next thing she knew, she said, the airplane was past the airport and in the street.
"Everyone was very calm," she said. "Everyone around me seemed very OK."
Duda said the passengers used inflatable slides to get out of the plane in the blowing snow.
According to the FAA, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 from Baltimore to Chicago slid off the runway at the northwest corner of the airport, through the boundary fence and into the roadway.
The airplane's nose was crushed and a severely damaged engine was on the ground, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
A Southwest Airlines spokesman could not immediately provide additional information.
Southwest flies an all-Boeing 737 fleet with more than 400 aircraft.
National Transportation Safety Board and FAA officials from Washington were on the way to Chicago to investigate.
James Burnett, a former NTSB chairman, said investigators would likely examine such factors as weather, instrumentation, engines and runway operations, in particular whether snow removal was adequate.
"When you're looking at a runway overrun, it almost always involves a runway condition that's improper," Burnett told WFLD-TV. "But that's not the only thing."
Midway reported about 18 centimetres of snow today, but Abrams said runway conditions at the time were acceptable.
The airport, Chicago's second largest, is closely bordered by streets lined with homes and businesses. Midway serves more than 17 million travellers a year, many of them on Southwest.
The accident occurred 33 years to the day after a crash at Midway that killed 45 people, two of them on the ground.
In that crash, the pilot of United Airlines Flight 533 was instructed by the control tower to execute a ``missed approach'' pattern.
The pilot applied full power to go around for another landing attempt.
About two kilometres from the airport, the airliner struck tree branches, then hit the roofs of a number of neighbourhood bungalows before ploughing into a home, bursting into flames. Eighteen passengers survived.