MD-87 Overshoots Runway, Bursts Into Flames

A McDonnell Douglas MD-87 has crashed after overrunning a runway at Houston Executive Airport this morning. The airplane reportedly rejected takeoff and exited the runway, subsequently bursting into flames. Reports suggest 21 people were onboard and that all escaped with their lives.

MD-87, Crash, Houston
The aircraft had entered service in 1988 with Finnair. Photo: Preston Fiedler

A private MD-87 registered N987AK has become a fireball after an aborted takeoff at Houston Executive Waller County Airport near Brookshire in Texas. The aircraft was reportedly undertaking a takeoff from runway 36 but aborted the process for an unknown reason.

Unable to stop the plane, it crashed through the perimeter fence and came to rest some 300m beyond the airfield. At this point, the aircraft burst into flames.

A significant emergency response was mobilized. Multiple fire crew can be seen dousing the aircraft with water and fire retardant foam as they attempt to bring the blaze under control.

Reports suggest that the private jet was carrying 21 people onboard – three crewmembers and 18 passengers. Amazingly, it seems everyone was evacuated from the aircraft safely, barring one person who received a non life-threatening injury.

Naturally, the FAA and NTSB will be investigating the cause of the crash. Locals are reporting that the accident took out the power to multiple nearby homes, and that the utility services are working to restore supply.

The latest reports suggest that black smoke is still visible from the crash site, and that fire crews are still on the scene. Not much is left to identify the aircraft as the MD-87 that it was, save for the iconic tail.

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The plane

This particular MD-87 wasn’t always a private jet. Like most ‘mad dogs’, the MD began life as a commercial workhorse, entering service in January 1988. Flying new as OH-LMB, it operated for Finnair for the first 12 years of its life, then transferring to Aeromexico to fly as N204AM.

According to Aero Transport Data Bank, the aircraft was put into storage between February 2007 and April that year. It was then converted into VIP configuration to fly for Noybim LLC, where it entered service as N204AM in mid-April 2007. It was configured to carry 19 passengers.

MD-87 Aeromexico
The jet in her Aeromexico days. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

It was stored from 2009 to 2015, but was brought out to be leased to Wallace Holdings as a private jet. Flying as N987AK, it has been with the company since August that year, but is blocked on ASDB trackers, so we can’t tell you where it’s flown.

Houston Executive Airport (KTME), where the aircraft was flying from, is a public use airport that opened in 2007. It caters to businesses based in the ‘energy corridor’ of Houston, and is almost exclusively used by medium and large business jets.

Today’s accident is a sad end to a 33-year-old classic jet. We can only be thankful that the passengers and crew managed to escape unscathed.