NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


EXCESSIVE AIRSPEED AND FLIGHT PATH ANGLE CAUSED SOUTHWEST AIRLINES B-737 RUNWAY OVERRUN IN BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, NTSB SAYS

June 26, 2002

Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board determined today that the probable cause of a Southwest Airlines accident was the flight crew's excessive airspeed and flight path angle during the approach and landing at Burbank, California. The Board also attributed the cause of the accident to the crew's failure to abort the approach when stabilized approach criteria were not met. Contributing to the accident was the air traffic controller's positioning of the airplane, which was too high, too fast, and too close to the runway threshold. As a result, no safe options existed for the flight crew other than a go-around maneuver. Furthermore, had the accident flight crew applied maximum manual brakes immediately upon touchdown, the airplane would likely have stopped before impacting the blast fence, the Board found.

"A stabilized approach is critical for a safe landing," said NTSB Chairman Marion Blakey. "Everyone involved in the system has an important role to play. The controller must establish the aircraft correctly on approach, the flight crew must adhere to stabilized approach criteria, and the airport operator needs to ensure an adequate runway safety area."

On March 5, 2000, Southwest Airlines, Inc., flight 1455, a Boeing 737-300, N668SW, overran the departure end of runway 8 after landing at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, Burbank, California. The airplane touched down at approximately 182 knots. About 20 seconds later, at approximately 32 knots, the airplane collided with a metal blast fence and an airport perimeter wall. The airplane came to rest on a city street near a gas station off of the airport property. Of the 142 persons on board, 2 passengers sustained serious injuries, 41 passengers and the captain sustained minor injuries, and 94 passengers, 3 flight attendants, and the first officer sustained no injuries. The airplane sustained extensive damage and some internal damage to the passenger cabin.

During its investigation, the Board found that a forward service door escape slide inflated inside the aircraft and blocked the forward exit. This slowed down the evacuation from the plane.

Consequently, the Safety Board issued recommendations asking the FAA to issue an airworthiness directive to require all operators of Boeing 737-300 through -500 series airplanes to replace the slide cover latch brackets on forward slide compartments with the type of slide cover latch brackets installed on the forward slide compartment of Boeing 737-600 through -900 series airplanes. The Board also issued a recommendation asking the FAA to issue an airworthiness directive to require initial and periodic inspections of the pivot bracket assemblies on a particular model jumpseat installed on Boeing 737-300 through -500 series airplanes. Although a flight attendant's jumpseat collapsed during the accident, it did not affect the ability of passengers and crewmembers to evacuate the plane.

A summary of the Board's report is available on the NTSB's web site at www.ntsb.gov <http://www.ntsb.gov> (under "Publications"). The full report will be available on the web site in the next few weeks.

NTSB Media Contact:
Keith Holloway
(202) 314-6100
hollowk@ntsb.gov  

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.