Southwest plane slips before takeoff at BWI Airport

A Southwest Airlines plane skidded on a taxiway while turning before takeoff at BWI Marshall Airport on Wednesday morning, coming to rest with the nose of the plane hanging over the grass.

Airport officials said the cause of the skid is under investigation. No injuries were reported.

The Boeing 737 — which was scheduled to depart for Montego Bay, Jamaica at 9:15 a.m. — already had been delayed more than an hour before the incident. The plane was evacuated, and its 143 passengers and six crew members were bussed back to the airport, according to Southwest Airlines.

The plane slid for about 10 seconds before coming to a rest, said a passenger, Charlie Simmons, 50, of Baltimore County.

“Everybody was kinda like, ‘What the eff’s going on here?’” he said.

Skid marks on the taxiway pavement could be seen in a photo Simmons took of the plane.

BWI Airport spokesman Jonathan Dean said that the plane’s wheels never left the taxiway. But he confirmed the plane stopped at the edge of the pavement on Taxiway P, and that airport operations employees, fire department, Maryland Transportation Authority Police and Southwest Airlines personnel “responded to the incident scene.”

The plane was towed about 12:30 p.m., and the taxiway and section of the runway were reopened afterward, with negligible effect on airport operations, Dean said.

The passengers were accommodated on another plane, which was scheduled to arrive in Montego Bay about three hours after their original flight, Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said in a statement.

“As always, the safety and support of our customers and employees remains our primary focus and we are working to get them on their way as quickly as possible,” King said.

All the surfaces in the airfield had been chemically treated to prevent ice from accumulating from the mixed precipitation overnight, and surface temperature was measured at 37 degrees Wednesday morning, Dean said. A friction test of the pavement immediately after the incident found that it was “within FAA standards,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration tweeted that it is investigating a plane that “slid sideways while preparing for departure.” An agency spokesperson did not respond to a request for additional comment.

Passengers were told to leave their their carry-on luggage on the aircraft when they disembarked — an order that caused an audible uproar in the passenger cabin, Simmons said.

“It seems like a cluster to me,” he said.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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