A Southwest Airlines plane hit and killed an “unauthorized” person who had apparently breached security and made it onto the runway when the Boeing 737 landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Thursday night, airline and airport officials confirmed. The pilots apparently saw the person shortly after touching down – beyond the point at which they could safely ‘go around’.
Southwest Airlines flight WN1392 landed at Austin airport at around 8.12 pm after a short flight from Dallas on Thursday evening. According to a Southwest spokesperson, the pilots manoeuvred the plane in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the trespasser.
Images obtained by local media sources show damage to the aircraft engine where the person was apparently struck. It would appear that the person was close to being sucked into the aircraft engine – a scenario that could have resulted in far more damage.
“Southwest flight #1392 arrived safely after being cleared to land on runway 17R at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) this evening,” a Southwest statement released on Thursday night read.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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 on onboard injuries.”
The spokesperson said the company extended “our Southwest Hearts” to the person killed in the incident and thanked the crew for their “professionalism and swift response”.
Austin airport said its operations team found the victim on the runway and called Austin-Travis Emergency Medical Services. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the Austin Police Department is leading the investigation.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.