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NTSB: Pilot erred in runway crash that killed boy

  • Story Highlights
  • National Transportation Safety Board: Pilot error caused 2005 runway accident
  • Southwest Airlines jet skidded off a runway at Chicago's Midway Airport
  • The incident resulted in the death of a 6-year-old boy
  • Pilot, co-pilot were unfamiliar with jet's automatic brake system, NTSB said
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal investigators Tuesday blamed the pilot of a Southwest Airlines jet for causing the plane to skid off a runway at Chicago's Midway Airport in 2005, an accident that killed a 6-year-old boy.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, like the plane here, skidded off a Chicago runway in 2005.

"The probable cause was the pilot's failure to use available reverse thrust in a timely manner to safely slow or stop the aircraft after landing which resulted in a runway overrun," the National Transportation Safety Board ruled.

Southwest Airlines flight 1248 slid off a 6,500-foot runway at Midway while landing during a heavy snowstorm in December 2005. The Boeing 737-700 was still moving at 46 mph when it crashed through a barrier wall and then slid into an intersection outside the airport grounds, hitting two cars.

The NTSB found the pilot and co-pilot were unfamiliar with the jet's automatic brake system, which "distracted them from thrust reverser usage during the challenging landing."

The agency also found the pilot's failure to divert the flight to another airport amid reports of poor braking on the runway and tailwinds above 5 mph contributed to the accident.

The accident killed Joshua Woods, 6, of Leroy, Indiana, and injured 12 others, including his parents and two younger brothers. It was the first fatal accident in the history of the Dallas-based airline.

None of the 98 passengers and five crew members aboard the Baltimore-to-Chicago flight were hurt.

The NTSB found Southwest failed to provide its pilots with "clear and consistent guidance and training" on company policies regarding arrival landing-distance calculations.

It also said the programming and design of the aircraft's onboard computers and the airline's plan to implement new auto-brake procedures without giving pilots time to learn those procedures contributed to the accident. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Correspondent Kathleen Koch contributed to this report.

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