On November 3rd, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 flying from Sacramento to Santa Ana had to divert to Los Angeles after the crew suspected that a tire had been ‘lost’ during take-off. The aircraft landed safely at LAX, although the loss of a tire has yet to be explained.
Flight and incident details
The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 involved in the incident was registered N752SW was operating flight WN1563 on November 3rd. Departing Sacramento (SMF) at 11:38 local time, the jet was set to fly passengers to Santa Ana (SNA). This service typically takes between 65 and 70 minutes.
According to The Aviation Herald, the aircraft departed using Sacramento’s runway 35R and climbed to FL350. It was only closer to their Santa Ana destination that the aircraft’s crew made the decision to divert to Los Angeles International (LAX), reporting to air traffic control that they suspected that a tire had been lost.
Thankfully, the aircraft touched down safely on Los Angeles’ runway 25L, with the FAA reporting that the front left tire was missing. While the Aviation Herald states that the damage was “unknown,” the FAA report does note that this tire “hit against the fuselage and caused dents.” It’s interesting to note that reporting makes no mention of the aircraft wheel, but only reports the tire separating from the aircraft. Indeed, how this could have happened to begin with, and how the landing might have felt, are two big questions that are left unanswered.
The aircraft was removed from service for the rest of the day so that it could be repaired. The next day, at 12:40 local time, the jet was back in the air, flying passengers from Los Angeles to Los Vegas.
36 miles apart
For those who know their Los Angeles-area airports well, they will know that Santa Ana’s John Wayne/Orange County airport is just 36 miles (58km) away from Los Angeles International. So why exactly might the Southwest jet opt to land at LAX instead?
Well, as we’ve noted in the past, SNA’s single runway is one of the shortest runways of any major airport in the country, measuring only 5700 feet (1738 meters). The consequence of this reduced length is that pilots must minimize floating for a smoother landing, and instead opt for harder landings to remain on the runway with sufficient stopping distance.
Thus, with the November 3rd incident, it would be safer for an aircraft with a questionable wheel and landing gear condition to land on a longer runway. Indeed, Los Angeles International has multiple runways and is still a major hub for Southwest. Thus, passengers would not be too inconvenienced while risk is minimized.
About the incident aircraft
The Boeing 737-700 registered N752SW is now a little over 23 years old, having had its first flight on September 24th, 1999. The aircraft has been flying with Southwest since it entered commercial service, and had winglets installed in 2004.
This is N752SW’s second incident on record, with the jet reportedly over-running the runway in December of 2018 at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR).
What do you think of the November 3rd incident? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment!
Sources: The Aviation Herald, Planespotters.net, FlightRadar24.com
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Low-Cost Carrier
- Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dallas Love Field, Denver International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Midway International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Robert Jordan
- United States