Runway Safety to Be Focus of NTSB Hearing

A dangerous airplane landing that took the life of a 6-year-old boy in Chicago last winter is prompting a federal review of procedures for landing on short or slippery runways.

The National Transportation Safety Board begins a two-day hearing Tuesday on the Dec. 8 accident at Chicago's Midway Airport. A Southwest Airlines jet skidded off the slick runway and crashed through a fence into the street, where it killed Joshua Woods of Leroy, Ind., who was riding in a car.

The runway, like about 300 others at commercial airports in the United States, did not have a 1,000-foot buffer zone at the end for airplanes that overshoot their landings.

And the pilots of the Boeing 737 relied on a flawed landing technique that should be banned, according to the NTSB.

The safety board will try to determine the best procedures for landing on wet runways and investigate what to do about runways that lack buffer zones. Industry, airline and federal and municipal officials were to testify.

Since the Dec. 8 accident, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed stricter standards for landings by passenger jets.

The proposal would require pilots to add 15 percent to the length of runway they think they need to land safely. The agency had found that half of all U.S. airlines don't have procedures for assessing dangerous runway conditions that develop after takeoff.

The FAA has also given a $15 million grant to Midway to build soft concrete beds that can slow airplanes that overshoot runways.

National Transportation Safety Board:

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