Southwest Airlines asks pilots to discontinue use of short Birmi - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Southwest Airlines asks pilots to discontinue use of short Birmingham Airport runway after UPS Crash

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BIRMINGHAM, AL - Another airline is telling their pilots not to use runway 18 at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

Last August, UPS Flight 1354 crashed just shy of runway 18. The pilot and co-pilot were both killed on impact.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported that ExpressJet urged their pilots not to use runway 18 because an internal investigation by the company indicated that the path brought planes “dangerously close” to nearby hills.

Now, Alabama’s 13 News has confirmed that Southwest Airlines has also stopped using the runway. Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Jenna Williamson said the company stopped using the short runway to land at the Birmingham Airport several months ago.

The decision was made to discontinue use of the runways for landing because crews were receiving alerts from the aircraft on approach, “said Williamson.

Southwest Airlines, largest domestic carriers in the United States, has 14 flights in and out of the Birmingham Airport daily.

Alabama’s 13 checked the status of the other major airline carriers at the Birmingham Airport. American Airlines would not comment on whether or not their pilots still use runway 18. Other carriers were not available for comment.

Steven Hoyt, Birmingham city councilman and vice chairman of the Birmingham Airport Authority, says it’s the prerogative of the airlines to decide which runway they want to use; however he thinks runway 18 is safe.

“That runway is as safe as any other,” he said.

The NTSB is currently investigating the UPS crash. The agency held a hearing last month.  Pilot fatigue was mentioned as a possible cause; the safety of runway 18 was not discussed.
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