A Southwest Boeing 737-700 hit a person on the runway of Austin airport as it was landing at night.
The aircraft, registered N401WN, was performing flight WN-1392 from Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) to Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), in the evening of May 7, 2020. As they were about to land, the flight crew noticed a man on runway 17R.
Despite the efforts of the pilots to dodge the individual, the left engine number 1 hit and killed him. Upon arrival at the gate, the pilots advised air traffic control that “there might be a person on the runway”. The unharmed passengers were then deplaned normally.
Airport ground workers recovered the body of the man from the runway. He was declared dead on the scene by the medical team. The airport authority described him as an “unauthorized individual”, which suggests that the victim was not an airport worker.
The aircraft sustained damage on the edge of the engine inlet cowl.
Runway 17R was temporarily closed for the investigation of the FAA and the NTSB to determine the circumstances of this incursion. “Southwest is fully cooperating with local law enforcement and FAA as they investigate this event,” the airline said in a statement.
While runway incursions are not uncommon, tragic accidents are usually prevented by the awareness of airport workers. In February 2019, two disoriented contractors crossed one of London Heathrow Airport (LHR) runways in their vehicle, prompting an A300-600 freighter to abort takeoff.