Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 from Baltimore-Washington International to Chicago Midway skidded off the runway in heavy snow and fog. Flight 1248 was scheduled to continue to McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, NV.
"Due to ACFT ACCIDENT, the Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) was closed as of Dec 08 at 08:16 PM CST. The date/time when the airport is expected to reopen is not known." Airport officials hope to reopen in the morning.
The flight was supposed to land at 7:10PM CST. Ambulances were called and there were reports that the plane hit at least two cars when it slid through a sound barrier at the northwest corner of Midway Airport onto the intersection of S Central Ave and W 55th St. Flight 1248 was landing from the southeast with a crosswind from the east at 10-15 mph. Generally planes land with a headwind.
One car was pinned under a wing. Chicago Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter says that at least nine people on the ground have been hurt, five in one car, four in another car, and three on the plane. There were five serious injuries, and one of these was critical. Four other injuries were serious but stable and there were also three minor injuries. The jaws of life were used on the scene. Fox News is reporting that nearby Holy Cross Hospital took in four patients into its emergency room. One fatality is being reported, a six year-old boy who was in one of the cars.
CNN reports that The Boeing 737 was carrying 98 people. It left Baltimore, MD about 5 p.m. ET and tried to land shortly after 8 p.m. ET. Passengers told WFLD television that the plane made a "hard landing."
A mechanic at Midway airport told WBBM-AM that the Boeing's nose gear had collapsed, and at least one of the engines was damaged. There were no reports of fire or injuries on the plane. It is unclear if it was just the weather or there were also mechanical factors. Lilia Chacon of Fox 12 in Chicago says "it made a hard landing, slid off the runway, crashed through a fence, collapsed its nose gear, and damaged at least one of the engines."
CNN reports: December 8, 1972: Rep. George W. Collins, Illinois (D). Collins was killed when a United Airlines jetliner plane crashed on approach to Chicago's Midway Airport. Forty-four others also were killed. Collins' widow, Cardiss, succeeded her husband in the House. See the Chicago Public Library for more on the 1972 crash.
A passenger said that it sounded like the brakes were not working, but more likely there was snow on the runway. In general, planes do not slow down solely with wheel brakes like a car would, but also use other techniques reverse thrust, where the plane's engines are reversed to stop quickly, and, air brakes.
Flight 1248 was supposed to land at Midway Airport at 5:10PM CST, but was over 2 hours behind schedule. More than 400 flights have been cancelled at Midway and O'Hare Airports in Chicago today, due to snow.
As of 6:53PM CST, the National Weather Service reported snow and fog with winds from the east at 13 mph, 0.5 mile visibility and 26 degree temps. WBBM-TV said 10 inches of snow had fallen at Midway including 3 inches in one hour.
Southwest Airlines issued this statement on their website:
DALLAS - Dec. 8, 2005, 11:45 PM CST - Southwest Airlines' Flight 1248 was involved in an incident today at Chicago Midway Airport at approximately 7:15 p.m. CST while the aircraft, a Boeing 737-700, was landing. The aircraft veered off the runway onto Central and 55th Avenue, beyond the northwest corner of the runway. Flight 1248 was scheduled for a 2:55 p.m. CST departure out of Baltimore/Washington International Airport, but the aircraft's departure was delayed until 4:50 p.m. CST because of weather. The flight arrived at Chicago Midway at 7:15 p.m., after circling the Chicago Midway Airport for approximately 35 minutes.
The preliminary passenger list indicated the aircraft carried 98 passengers with a crew of five. Initial information is that 11 individuals have been taken to a local hospital while the remaining passengers have been taken to a safe place in the airport, having no reported injuries.
Southwest Airlines' immediate concern is with those affected, both on the aircraft and on the ground. Southwest Airlines Employees are in the process of contacting the families of passengers and crewmembers, as well as those affected on the ground. Southwest Airlines has deployed an aircraft of Employees to assist passengers of Flight 1248. Passenger names will not be released until the appropriate family members have been notified.
Southwest Airlines has the injured and the families and friends of those who have been touched by this incident in our thoughts and prayers. We are currently working with all available emergency teams at the scene in addition to assisting the families of the passengers and crewmembers onboard.
Southwest Airlines' officials are in direct contact with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other agencies as they perform an investigation into the cause of this accident.
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-700 tail number N-471. Southwest took delivery of this new aircraft in July 2004. The aircraft was released from the airline's Phoenix maintenance facility on Dec. 7, 2005. There were no indications that the aircraft was experiencing any type of maintenance problems.
The Southwest Airlines Captain on Flight 1248 has been flying for the airline for ten years. The Southwest Airlines First Officer on Flight 1248 has been flying for the airline for more than two years.
A toll-free number has been established by Southwest Airlines to assist friends and family members wanting information about passengers onboard Flight 1248. That number is (800) 922-9525. Periodic updates will also be posted on the Company's web site at www.southwest.com.
Passengers with specific questions on flights can call (800) 435-9792 or log on to www.southwest.com for updated information.
Information as of 12/9/2005 1:15:46 AM GMT
FlightID: SWA1248 (Commercial Jet)
Owner: SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. (SAN ANTONIO, TX)
Radio Call: SOUTHWEST
Type: B737 (Boeing Company Model 737-700)
Origin Apt: BWI BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON INTL
Dest Apt: MDW CHICAGO MIDWAY INTL
Departed: 05:59 PM EST (2259Z)
Original ETA: 06:39 PM CST (0039Z)
Actual Arrival: 07:16 PM CST (0116Z)
Meredith Berube in Chicago, Ian Schwartz in Baltimore, and Carolyn Pierce in London, Ontario contributed to this report.