United 737-9 Runway Incursion, Southwest 737-8 Rejects Takeoff

By Spyros Georgilidakis | May 4, 2024

The flight crew of a Southwest flight safely rejected their takeoff because of a runway incursion by a United 737 MAX-9 that had just landed.

This incident happened on Friday the 26th of April this year. It involved two flights, one arriving and one departing from Orlando International Airport (KMCO). Departing was Southwest Airlines flight WN-5777.

Photo: Henry Siismets

This is a daily afternoon flight, to Dallas Love Field Airport (KDAL). The other flight was United UA-1929, a daily service departing from Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR). We have no information on the number of passengers and crew on board either flight.

On the day of this runway incursion incident, the Southwest flight would depart from Runway 18L, shortly after the United flight landed on runway 18R. After their landing, a controller instructed the United crew to exit the runway at Echo and then told them to hold short of runway 18L.

A Southwest 737-8. Photo: Vander Films

The United pilot read back the instruction to exit the runway at Echo, but then mistakenly said “Cross runway 18L”. The runway incursion was set when the controller missed this error by the United crew, while the Southwest flight prepared to depart.

United Runway Incursion, Southwest High-Speed Abort

Once the United aircraft crossed the hold short line, the controller instructed the Southwest crew to stop. The United incursion forced the Southwest crew to reject their takeoff at high speed – approximately 110 knots (ground speed).

United 737-9 Runway Incursion, Southwest 737-8 Rejects Takeoff
Photo: Richard Lu

Thankfully, there was plenty of room between the two flights. The Southwest crew exited the runway before reaching the position of the United aircraft. After the Southwest aircraft turned off, the controller informed the United crew of a possible pilot deviation, relating to the incursion.

The Southwest flight eventually departed for its destination, again from runway 18L, approximately 25 minutes after the incident. This was a one-year-old Boeing 737 MAX-8, with registration N8875B.

United 737-9 Runway Incursion, Southwest 737-8 Rejects Takeoff
Photo: Lukas Souza

The United 737 MAX-9 has registration N37540 and is around 8 months older. Both the United and Southwest aircraft remained in regular service after the incident.

We have recently seen an additional focus on airport close calls, particularly runway incursions. Ultimately, the crews and controllers intervened before the two aircraft in this incident came too close. But the event adds to the public scrutiny, as it closely follows other similar incidents.


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