BURBANK, Calif. — A Southwest Airlines jet came to a skidding stop today during heavy rain at Burbank Airport near Los Angeles Thursday. If not for concrete blocks designed to crumble and slow down the plane, the flight could have ended much more violently.
The Oakland-to-Burbank 737 stopped just a few feet from a fence and a highway. It took a few minutes for the 112 passengers to realize what happened.
“All of a sudden we started skidding, and then he started braking even more aggressively and then he was like, ‘brake!'” Yvonne Dorr said.
But those on board weren’t panicked.
“You could sense pretty quickly that we weren’t slowing down like normal,” Josh Novarez said. “I have a sense of how quickly we need to stop on the short runway and we could tell pretty quick that that wasn’t going to happen.”
“Everybody checked around and it could have been a much worse day,” Colette Carlson added.
The Southwest jet wound up in a soft sand-like material placed at the end of the paved runways. It’s designed to prevent planes from overshooting even further.
The material wasn’t in place nearly two decades ago on the exact same runway when a Southwest jet careened off the pavement, injuring several passengers.
“That’s what this particular device is designed to do — stop it from going into highways, stop it from going into the water, stopping it from leaving the airport,” said CBS News aviation consultant Mark Rosenker.
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