Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Rejects Takeoff Due To Bird Strike

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On Tuesday, September 15th, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 had to conduct a rejected takeoff after its left-hand engine suffered a bird strike. The aircraft slowed and vacated the runway where it was met by emergency services on a taxiway. The plane was flying from Milwaukee (Wisconsin) to Orlando (Florida).

Southwest Getty Boeing 737
Southwest Airlines operates an all Boeing 737 fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Incident details

The incident aircraft was a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 with registration N420WN. According to The Aviation Herald, the jet was performing flight WN2253 from Milwaukee (Wisconsin) to Orlando (Florida).

Scheduled to depart at 08:10, the aircraft was accelerating for takeoff from Milwaukee’s runway 19R. However, the aircraft’s left-hand engine struck two large birds, and the crew conducted a rejected takeoff as a result. 

Rejected Takeoff Southwest
The incident took place at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. Photo: FlightRadar24.com 

The incident took place 1100 meters (3600 feet) down the runway. According to AirNav.com, General Mitchell International Airport’s Runway 19R is 3045 meters (9990 feet) in length, meaning the aircraft had covered about one-third of the runway’s total distance.

Rejecting the takeoff, the 737-700 slowed safely and vacated the runway. Stopping on a taxiway, emergency services responded and inspected the aircraft. Following this, the plane taxied to the apron with emergency services following.

The flight to Orlando was subsequently canceled.

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Aircraft details

According to Planespotters.net, the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 is 18.8 years old and is powered by two CFM56 engines. This 737-700 has been with Southwest Airlines since it arrived from Boeing’s assembly facilities in 2002. The aircraft has a single-class configuration with 143 economy seats.

The aircraft remained on the ground in Milwaukee for just under two days after the rejected takeoff. It resumed service performing flight WN2241 to Baltimore on Thursday, September 17th. It has gone on to fly seven more flights since.

southwest-airlines-las-vegas
The Southwest Airlines 737 remained in Milwaukee for about one and a half days before resuming passenger service. Source: McCarran International Airport Newsroom

Southwest Airlines operates a fleet of over 700 Boeing 737 aircraft. The operational fleet consists entirely of Next Generation series 737s, namely the -700 and longer -800. The airline does have 34 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets with another 30 more on order. However, as the MAX has yet to be recertified, the airline is unable to fly these particular Boeing 737s.

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What is a rejected takeoff?

A rejected takeoff is defined by Skybrary as “The situation which follows when it is decided to stop an aircraft during the takeoff roll.” Skybrary also notes that a successful rejection should be achieved if the response is immediate and completed in accordance with prescribed procedures.

“A reject should only be considered if there is a strong reason to believe that the aircraft will not fly, the source adds.

This will most certainly be the case if a bird strike and subsequent ingestion by the engine is detected or suspected.

Have you ever been on a flight that had to perform a rejected takeoff? Please share your experience with us in the comments.

Simple Flying contacted Southwest Airlines requesting comment or statement on the incident. At the time of publication, no response was received.

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