Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 hits and kills an individual walking on the runway during landing

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On 7 May, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 (registered N401WN) operated domestic flight WN1392 between Dallas and Austin, United States. Shortly after landing at Austin’s runway 17R, however, the pilots spotted an individual on the runway. The aircraft manoeuvred to avoid the person and the aircraft came to a safe stop. Shortly after, an airport operator found the deceased pedestrian. 

The following aircraft – a Delta Air Lines Airbus A220 – was instructed to go around. The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation.

The low-cost airline confirmed the accident and wrote: “Southwest flight #1392 arrived safely after being cleared to land on runway 17R at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) this evening. The Southwest aircraft manoeuvred to avoid an individual who appeared on runway 17R shortly after touchdown. The aircraft quickly came to a safe stop, and the Pilots reported the event to local air traffic controllers.

After receiving further instructions from controllers, the aircraft taxied to the gate where all Customers and the Crew deplaned the aircraft safely with no reports of onboard injuries.

Tonight’s flight landed at 8:12 p.m. CDT, after arriving from Dallas Love Field (DAL). Southwest is fully cooperating with local law enforcement and FAA as they investigate this event. Our Southwest Hearts extend to the individual involved, and we sincerely thank our Crew for their professionalism and swift response.

Pictures of the damage to the aircraft appeared on social media:

48 COMMENTS

  1. There appears to be several different definitions to the term “low cost carrier” and since the traditional definition (charging for extras like bags and service) actually includes just about every “major” carrier, I was curious what your source was to label SWA as a “low cost carrier”. I seriously hope it wasn’t Wikipedia.

  2. I happen to agree with the first two comments. To use the term ‘pedestrian’ in conjunction with ‘active commercial runway’ is about the same as using ‘oxy’ with ‘moron’. Hmmm…

  3. WTF was he doing on the runway in the first place?
    Where was security all that time?
    Couldn’t they see him from the tower?
    Were they asleep up there or what?
    Somebody else’s head will roll over this one.

  4. So what are they trying to say, pedestrians have the right of way? The runway is not for pedestrians, only for airlines

  5. Interloper. It is possible he was not trespassing.
    Chapter 5.1 of the Manual on the Regulation of International Air Transport (Doc 9626) defines an LCC as “an air carrier that has a relatively low-cost structure in comparison with other comparable carriers and offers low fares and rates.

  6. While any death of any person is always sad, this person clearly was trespassing and had absolutely no right to be on an active runway. Great job to the pilots for not doing something crazy like trying to depart from the runway to avoid the trespasser. Lesson to everyone, don’t go on airplane runways unless the airport is closed and giving permission such as an airshow.

  7. ‘with no reports of onboard injuries’
    REALLY!!! I don’t think they needed to add that line!

  8. Last I checked flights on SW were 3x higher than with Frontier and Spirit. Wouldn’t call them a LCC any longer. As for the trespasser, let it be a lesson to those who walk on runways (and train tracks) smdh 🤨

  9. There is also the possibility that the person was cleared on to the runway by the tower who then forgot someone was on the runway. It is not always easy to see a person, on what could have been a long distance from the tower. Shouldn’t happen put it’s possible.

  10. Wow! One “pedestrian” caused that much damage to an Boeing 737-700 taxiing on a runway? Hope Southwest’s insurance will cover it.

  11. Story is very weird since Austin’s airport is quite small compared to most…. and Southwest has not been considered “low cost”, in my opinion, since they opened up international flights!!!!! Used to count on them to be the go-to but no longer!😰😰

  12. There are no pedestrians ever on an active runway in this country, post 9/11!
    Will be interesting to learn who this person was, how did they gain access to the runway and/or exterior of airport buildings? How many airport personnel did this person pass, prior to making it all the way to the runway?

  13. It’s interesting how they made sure the reader knows that it was a Southwest Boeing 737 that was involved. Any other time the media has no clue what type of airplane. The emphasis on this story and the headline should be that there was a pedestrian on the runway NOT the airline and manufacturer. Bait!

  14. Why the hell are you people even commenting on this? What purpose does it serve?

  15. I’d like to know why the person was on the runway. Was it someone who worked at the airport? It must have been otherwise how would the crew have seen him or her and been able to try to manoeuvre around? It must have been nearer to the actual airport building rather than further along the runway where the plane first lands. I’m glad that no one on the plane was hurt in the incident.
    It’s sad for the pilots to do a job where they protect the lives of hundreds on each flight only to run over someone in their work vehicle through no fault of their own. I do hope this doesn’t have a negative mental impact.
    If the family of the victim see this I’d like to offer my sincere condolences. May your family member rest in everlasting peace.

  16. Expensive damage to the planes engine, terrible I hope they bill the deceased person for the damage and huge fine for the deceased being on the runway trespassing illegally. I fell sorry for the pilot and crew having to deal with this deceased persons idiotic decisions and actions

  17. Sad to the family of the deceased. And now. I see the media twists and highlights unimportant points in this story, as in most.

  18. Sad but how did he get out there. So the boss of the airport needs to be sacked as the buck stops with him.

  19. So sad for that individual that lost his life on the runway but the fact does remain, he had no business on that runway. Can’t believe that nobody actually saw him on that runway.

  20. No. 1. He should’nt be on the runway .. Working there or not. We Dont know the story. Rip who ever you are God Bless FAMILY. ..

  21. Just another skewed view and tactical use of words for the sake of a headline at the expense of an already suffering airline’s reputation. Our trusty media hard at work, yet again. Labeling someone who obviously wasn’t a “pedestrian” long before any investigation findings are concluded is just plain old sketchy reporting. Maybe they can get a job with CNN.

  22. Why was this person on the runway? where the committing suicide? Got lost? But in the long run they died of the Chinese virus.

  23. Considering this happened in the USA, how can such a breach of security been allowed? Americans are way to lax and keep dropping the ball while curbing people’s freedoms in the name of security…and yet security failures still continue….

  24. The term “pedestrian” is perfectly adequate and correct. While this is defined as a “runway incursion”, we have no idea if the individual was trespassing. This may have been an airport employee in the wrong place. Normally, an airport or airline employee would get specific permission via radio to enter a runway, on foot in a vehicle. It is entirely possible for such an employee to incorrectly state where they are or where they are going. Its also possible for the controller to mishear or misunderstand (loss of situational awareness) what is happening or going to happen (landing clearance given when there is a worker on the runway).

    BTW, airports are HUGE. It is very difficult for an observer in the tower cab to see something as small as a single human being.

    Full Disclosure: I am an active flight instructor at a busy regional airport.

  25. Is this how we keep our airports SAFE ,what’s wrong with the tower personnel,did they report to security this event?
    We need better security at airports .

  26. Why does the headline make it sound like the airline is at fault? We don’t know the full story. Click bait.

  27. If you are going to use the term pedestrian. It should be followed up with was struck and killed while using a marked crosswalk. Or was not using a marked crosswalk. Better choice would be a trespasser or airport worker. Either way he is in the running for a 2020 Darwin award.

  28. Media be like:
    Dumb southwest pilot intentionally murders a human being that came out of no where on the runway and southwest ceo is defending him.

  29. Low cost my a**!!!! They are a great airline. I wouldn’t call the person a pedestrian I would say he was breaking a federal law by trespassing. You call yourself a reporter. I would say your a bust!!!!

  30. It must be Boeing fault that their air plane can’t keep runway clear. This reporter definitely bias.

  31. Its obvious that everyone is jumping on the Boeing hate train. They’re taking every little problem and blowing it up as the media always does. Ridiculous….!! People have zero business being on an active runway unless cleared by air traffic control!!!

  32. May be it’s just me… I didn’t see any reference to “the individual was hit or killed” in the official Southwest Airlines release. A deliberate omission?

  33. I did initially think pedestrian was a poor choice, however it is completely accurate to describe someone who is on foot rather than being in or on a vehicle of some kind.
    The legal status of the person’s presence, whether they were there legally or not, is a different matter.

  34. The person on the runway must have been suicidal. There’s no other reason why anyone would be out there on an active runway.

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