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By Mae Slater on
 March 9, 2024

United Airlines flight at Bush Intercontinental Airport rolls onto grass shortly after landing

A quiet Friday morning at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston took an alarming turn when a United Airlines flight from Memphis veered off the runway.

The incident, which led to the evacuation of 160 passengers and a six-person crew, has sparked an investigation by aviation authorities. Newsweek reported that the aircraft, just moments after touching down, found itself unexpectedly off the tarmac and in the grass.

The control tower, quick to respond, was recorded stating, "2477, I see you in the grass, we're rolling, ah trucks in route," highlighting the immediate dispatch of emergency services. This swift action was a small comfort to those onboard, who were grappling with the reality of their situation.

The Unnerving Moments Post-Landing

Passengers recounted the event as being particularly scary, marked by yelling and a significant jolt that left the plane in an awkward, sideways position. John Lee of Houston described the atmosphere onboard as one of acute tension, with the noise and sudden shift causing immediate concern among the passengers.

"Well, there was a huge pop, the plane tilted over and everybody kind of gasped. The lady across the way screamed," Mike Allard from New Caney, Texas, added to the chorus of passenger accounts. These firsthand experiences paint a vivid picture of the moments following the unexpected detour into the grassy verge.

Candace Davis shared her initial confusion and fear, saying, "We landed fine, and then there was a loud boom. So I thought we hit another plane," This quote encapsulates the sudden shift from a routine landing to an emergency situation.

Response and Investigation Begin

In the wake of the incident, all 160 passengers and the crew were safely evacuated and transported to the terminal by bus. Despite the lack of physical injuries, the emotional and psychological impact of such an event cannot be understated.

The aircraft remained in its unintended position until early Friday evening. Efforts to conceal the scene included hanging a tarp to block it from view, a stark reminder of the morning's unexpected events.

Authorities were quick to respond, with the FAA being notified and the National Transportation Safety Board sending a team to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

A Statement of Safety and Assurance

In light of the incident, United Airlines confirmed that its operations at Bush Intercontinental Airport were unaffected. This announcement was likely a relief to travelers concerned about potential delays or cancellations.

The airline also issued a statement, emphasizing its commitment to safety and the thorough investigation of the incident. "We take every safety event seriously and will investigate each of the incidents that occurred this week to understand what happened and learn from them," the statement read, highlighting the airline's proactive stance in addressing safety concerns.

This event marked the third incident involving a United flight reported in the same week, following a tire falling off a plane and a fire caused by bubble wrap entering an engine. Remarkably, like the off-runway ordeal, these incidents resulted in no injuries, a fact that, while fortunate, does little to diminish the gravity of such occurrences.

Reflections on a Week of Aviation Anomalies

The sequence of events involving United flights within a single week has undoubtedly raised eyebrows. While United Airlines has been keen to stress the distinct and unrelated nature of these incidents, the accumulation of such occurrences in a short span is bound to invite scrutiny.

The airline's collaborative approach with Boeing, the FAA, the NTSB, and component manufacturers in investigating these incidents is an important step in preventing future occurrences. Such partnerships are crucial in the complex ecosystem of aviation safety, where the lessons learned from one event can inform broader safety protocols and practices.

In conclusion, the off-runway incident at Bush Intercontinental Airport serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictability inherent in air travel. Despite the best efforts of airlines, crews, and regulatory bodies, the possibility of unforeseen events remains. It is the response to such incidents, characterized by swift action, thorough investigation, and a commitment to learning, that defines the resilience of the aviation industry.

  • The incident occurred at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, involving a United Airlines flight from Memphis.
  • Passengers and crew were evacuated safely, with no injuries reported.
  • The FAA and NTSB are investigating the incident.
  • United Airlines has emphasized its commitment to safety and the investigation of this and other recent incidents.
  • This event marks the third incident involving United Airlines in a single week, although all were distinct and resulted in no injuries.
Written By:
Mae Slater

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