A Southwest Airlines 737 overran the runway at Burbank-Hollywood Airport yesterday, skidding to a halt. But a technological system prevented a far worse disaster.
Flight 278 from Oakland to Burbank had 112 passengers and five crew members onboard. No injuries were reported.
The incident, which occurred just after 9:00AM, did not shut down the airport, just one of the airport’s two runways. Still, several flights ended up being delayed and some were cancelled.
Hollywood Burbank Airport remains open. All Terminal B gates remain open and Terminal A Gates A1-A5 remain open. Runway 8/26 has been closed due to the incident. Runway 15/33 remains operational. Please check your flight status with your airline.
— Hollywood Burbank ✈️ (@fly_BUR) December 6, 2018
As the aircraft bolted down the runway, far too fast to avoid overrunning it, an airport safety feature kicked in. It is called the Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS). The engineered materials are “high energy absorbing materials of selected strength, which will reliably and predictably crush under the weight of an aircraft.” Most often, these are crushable concrete blocks that an aircraft tire will break as it rolls over it. But the result is that it quickly slows down an aircraft. At Burbank, the EMAS system is located about 30-40 yards from busy Hollywood Way.
Burbank Airport spokesperson Lucy Burghdorf told the LA Times:
The EMAS did exactly what it was supposed and designed to do — it stopped the plane from going through the blast fence. It didn’t hit anything else. The airport angel was with us this morning.
It was raining hard yesterday in LA. A passenger on Twitter reported the the aircraft hydroplaned after touching down before the pilot was able to regain control.
— Moe Storch (@MoeStorch) December 6, 2018
Since its just 15 minutes from my house, I use Burbank Airport as often as I can. This incident certainly won’t change that. But the runway is very short at Burbank. Often it leads to hard landings, as planes must land fast and apply the brakes. New runway plans have been opposed by neighbors who feel, even though the airport is over 85 years old, that they do not want to see any airport growth. Maybe a safety incident like this will change some minds. This also isn’t the first incident.
image: owencavlys / Wikimedia Commons