Saturday 20 April 2024

Seconds from disaster at Washington National Airport

On the 18th of April a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, with the registration N8710M, operating as flight WN-2937 from Washington National (DCA/KDCA) to Orlando (ORL/KORL) was taxiing for departure from runway 01 and inadvertently crossed the hold short line of runway 04. Ground Control urgently instructed them to halt, and the crew stopped the aircraft approximately 50 meters/140 feet beyond the hold short line and roughly 30 meters/100 feet from the runway edge line.

SOUTHWEST BOEING 737-8H4 N8548P (MSN 36968)

Meanwhile, a Jetblue Embraer ERJ-190, registered as N323JB and performing flight B6-1554 from Washington National, DC to Boston, MA, USA, had been cleared for takeoff from runway 04. As they accelerated, the ground controller's urgent call to WN-2937 was broadcasted, prompting the Jetblue crew to abort takeoff. They halted at a low speed, stopping around 240 meters/790 feet along the runway, then left the runway and returned to the apron.

JETBLUE AIRBUS A321-271NX N4022J (MSN 10303)

The Southwest crew maintained that they had received clearance to cross the runway and proceeded to taxi to runway 01, from where they took off and continued to Orlando without any further issues.

ATC recordings reveal that ground control had given WN-2937 the following instructions approximately two minutes before the incursion: "Southwest 2937, Washington Ground, give way to the American Airbus from left to right, to runway 01 via Kilo, Charlie, cross runway 04 at Charlie, then pull over to the right and contact me on the other side." The crew's readback was: "Alright, after the American Airbus to runway 01, via Kilo, Charlie, we are cleared to cross runway 04 and will stay to the right," which went uncorrected by the controller.

ADS-B data indicated that the two aircraft were about 120 meters/400 feet apart when they both came to a stop.

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