BURBANK (KPIX 5) – A unique safety system that has been installed at several Bay Area airports may have prevented a catastrophic crash of a Burbank-bound flight out of Oakland Thursday morning.
According to officials, the Southwest Flight 278 skidded off the runway in wet weather shortly after arriving at the Burbank Airport shortly after 9 a.m.
Moe Storch, a passenger on the jet Tweeted a picture of the jet and wrote: “Closer to the back wall than we would prefer… excellent job of the pilot regaining control of the aircraft!!”
Southwest said there were 112 passengers and 5 crewmembers on board at the time of the incident.
There were no reports of injuries.
“The Southwest Team is working diligently to get Customers to their destinations as soon as possible. We encourage Customers traveling via BUR today to check their flight status via Southwest.com,” the airline said in a statement to KPIX 5.
The jet’s skid was stopped thanks to a little-known safety system called Engineered Materials Arresting System.
“It’s one of these safety systems that you hope never to use. But as we saw in Burbank today, it can make a really big difference,” said Doug Yakel, a spokesperson for SFO.
San Francisco International Airport installed the same system on two runways in 2014. Yakel says they could not lengthen those runways because they’re bookend by the bay and Highway 101. According the FAA, the EMAS system is made up of hundreds of concrete tiles designed to collapse under the plane’s weight, cushioning it as it gradually comes to a stop. “If an airplane can’t safely come to a stop on the normal runway surface. They go over these E-MAS beds and the landing gear slowly sinks into these blocks of crushable concrete,” Yakel said.
The FAA says the safety system is in use at 63 airports nationwide, including San Francisco, Oakland and Monterey.