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A Recipe for Disaster

Initial Crash Analysis of the crash of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248, Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, on December 8, 2005

By Aviation Accident Attorneys, Ronald Goldman and Clark Aristei


Ronald L. M. Goldman was a lead attorney handling the discovery deposition efforts and Clark Aristei acted as lead plaintiffs' counsel for the Coordinated Discovery Cases in the Southwest Airlines Flight 1455 runway crash-landing in Burbank, California in 2000. That plane went off the runway, through barriers, crossed the street, hit a car, and came to rest mere feet from gasoline pumps at a service station. It is frighteningly similar to the Midway crash on December 8, 2005 in Chicago.

Baum Hedlund represents passengers in the airline accident at Chicago's Midway International Airport in which Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 crashed when it ran off Runway 31C which, due to its displaced threshold, only has 5826 feet of usable runway. The crash-landing occurred during a snowstorm. The Boeing 737 plowed through a fence and onto a busy street, striking two vehicles. The plane landed on top of a car, killing a young boy and injuring his family members. At least ten others were injured, including some passengers.

This recent Southwest accident at the Midway Airport is very similar to the Southwest runway crash-landing in Burbank, California in the year 2000, when Southwest Airlines Flight 1455 came in "hot and high" and careened off the end of the runway. Lawyers of Baum Hedlund represented the largest number of passengers aboard Flight 1455

In that case, disaster attorneys Ron Goldman and Clark Aristei took the lead in discovery and deposing pilots who were flying the airplane, as well as senior Southwest Airlines personnel, including the Vice President of Safety and their Chief Pilot. The law firm's efforts were a direct benefit to all claimants who suffered injury in the Burbank accident.

The Captain of Southwest Flight 1455 continued his approach into Burbank even though his approach was well outside the required glide path, as well as approach speed and landing speed. The Southwest Airlines pilots continued that approach and landing notwithstanding its excessive rate of descent, approach, and landing speed and crash-landed into an urban neighborhood.

It appears that the lessons of the March 2000 accident were not learned: that the only safe course of action to follow if an approach to landing is not within the rules and standards required for safe landing, is to abort the approach and either try again or go to an alternate airport.

In the Midway crash, it appears the pilots once again may have approached the landing with too much speed, an inexcusable and unsafe condition anytime, but crucially dangerous where the conditions also included a short runway with a notoriously difficult approach, a tailwind and a snowstorm. These were aggravating ingredients for this recipe for disaster.

We are examining the similarities of these two accidents, some of which are already appearing.

A thorough investigation will have to be conducted to determine whether the Southwest policy against use of the auto braking system may have contributed to the failure to stop the plane on the runway, whether the reverse thrust system functioned properly and whether the Midway Airport will have to share some of the blame.


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