A Southwest plane collided with an individual during landing at Austin airport after a security breach that resulted in a man getting on the runway and being struck fatally by the aircraft.
Runway incursions by unauthorized individuals are rare as airports usually have a well secured perimeter, however it’s definitely not impossible to around that on such a large areal that stretches over several miles.
ABC News reported that airport security staff discovered a deceased male after the plane landed successfully.
A man was struck and killed by a Southwest Airlines plane as it was landing on the runway of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport late Thursday, according to airport officials.
The man who died was not an employee at the airport and hopped the perimeter fence to gain access to the runway, Austin airport spokesperson Bryce Dubee confirmed to ABC News.
“We are treating it as a security breach,” Dubee said. “This is the first time we’ve had a runway incursion like this. We have had the occasional security breach, but no one has ever gotten onto an active runway at the airport.”
The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement on Friday that it “is conducting a check of the perimeter of the airport property with the airport’s security team.”
The pilot of the Southwest flight from Dallas to Austin reported the man on the runway to air traffic control after it was cleared to land.
Southwest Airlines said in a statement to ABC News that the aircraft “maneuvered to avoid an individual who became visible” shortly after the the Boeing 737 touched down.
Austin Police Department’s airport unit later discovered “an obviously deceased adult male” on the runway, a spokesperson for the police department said. …
Southwest said none of the 59 people on board the flight were injured in the incident and that it is fully cooperating with local law enforcement and the Federal Aviation Administration.
FAA investigators deployed to the scene last night. The agency has not confirmed whether or not the aircraft struck the victim.
Apparently this ABC News didn’t receive the photographs of the jet in time for their article as other news stations as well as Twitter users later reported including a severe damage on the engine:
I wouldn’t say that the security of an entire airport is questionable just because someone manages to get onto the tarmac. It’s obviously a very severe breach but I’ve driven around plenty of airports and runways where I often thought that it would be pretty easy to get over that fence.
Even the tarmac at LAX T1 was for a very long time not at all very well secured although the distance to the ground from the street level was pretty steep (this was years ago, there have since been improvements).
Other airports such as Detroit Metro used to have a bypass door at McNamara Terminal that for many years allowed Airport workers to go inside the secure area without passing security. This shows the vastly different security protocols different airports have in place.
The accident will obviously conducted by the NTSB and in this case they likely be able to wrap up their investigation pretty quickly once it’s determined who the individual is and how/why he breached the perimeter.
Airport security isn’t and probably never will be absolutely perfect. If someone puts enough mind and resources into a plan of getting onto the tarmac then he’ll likely be able to succeed. If this individual used a chance opportunity to overcome a security barrier in the airport terminal itself that would be a much bigger problem.