Southwest jet’s landing gear collapses on arrival in NY

Posted July 23, 2013, at 7:41 a.m.
Last modified July 23, 2013, at 7:59 a.m.

A Southwest Airlines jet’s nose gear collapsed on landing on Monday at New York’s LaGuardia airport, snarling traffic in the nation’s busiest air-travel market as flights were sent to other airports in the region.

Eight of the 150 people on board the Boeing 737-700 from Nashville, Tenn., were injured, Michelle Agnew, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Southwest, said in a telephone interview. CNN video showed the plane sitting with its front end on the runway and the emergency evacuation slides extended.

LaGuardia-bound flights were delayed almost four hours, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said. New York’s Kennedy airport and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty also reported delays as planes diverted from LaGuardia and foul weather backed up traffic in the most-congested U.S. air corridor.

A U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigator “will gather more information on the incident from the FAA and the operator and assess the damage to the airplane,” the agency said in a statement. “From there, decisions will be made regarding any further investigative activity by the NTSB.”

Flight 345 touched down at LaGuardia at about 5:45 p.m. Eastern time, the FAA said. After initially saying that the crew reported issues with the landing gear before arrival, the agency dropped that description in an updated statement. An FAA spokeswoman, Kathleen Bergen, said the incident remains under investigation.

Of the eight people initially reported hurt, five were passengers and three were flight attendants, said Southwest’s Agnew, who didn’t have details on the nature of those injuries.

“We’re just working closely with local authorities and the NTSB at this time,” Agnew said.

Eight flights from AMR’s American Airlines into the New York area were delayed about 75 minutes, with the prospect of more to come, said Kent Powell, a spokesman.

“I imagine it’ll go into the dozens that we have to pull out of the schedule,” he said. American is the second-biggest carrier at LaGuardia, behind Delta Air Lines. Sarah Lora, a Delta spokeswoman, said she couldn’t immediately comment on any travel disruptions.

Southwest is the largest operator of the Boeing 737, a single-aisle, twin-engine plane that is the world’s most widely flown jetliner.

While LaGuardia was only the 16th-busiest U.S. airport by departures in the 12 months through March, according to U.S. Transportation Department statistics, it’s part of the busiest U.S. airspace because of the proximity of John F. Kennedy International Airport, at No. 18, and No. 19 Newark Liberty International Airport.

Inbound and outbound flights at Newark and Kennedy were both running late because of weather, the FAA said on its website. American’s Powell said diversions of LaGuardia-bound flights added to the delays.

With assistance from Alan Levin and Tim Catts.

 

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