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NTSB Investigating Southwest Airlines Jet’s Nose Gear Collapse

Jack Fink, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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Southwest plane with collapsed nose gear at LaGuardia (Photo courtesy of Matthew J Friedman and Frank Ferramosca)

Southwest plane with collapsed nose gear at LaGuardia (Photo courtesy of Matthew J Friedman and Frank Ferramosca)

NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s rare to actually see what passengers describe as frightening moments.

The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 jet skidded off the runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, seconds after its nose wheel buckled during landing.

One passenger, Nadine Koo says, “It was 20 times worse than any rollercoaster stop would be, like boof.”

Another passenger Andy Sperry says, “The worst part is when the doors weren’t being opened and the smoke was coming in, you couldn’t breathe.”

In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, the NTSB says the rough landing around 5:40pm Monday injured nine passengers and crew members.

The airline says all were treated for injuries at local hospitals and were released.

In all, Southwest says 150 people were aboard flight 345 from Nashville to LaGuardia.

Late Tuesday, the NTSB said the plane was damaged when its nose slid on the runway for nearly 2,200 feet.

The NTSB also says when the nose wheel collapsed on landing, it went rearward, then up into the fuselage, damaging some of the plane’s electronics.

A retired airline Captain, Denny Kelly says that obviously can cause pilots problems.

“If the nose wheel collapses in a certain way, you’re going to impinge the hydraulic system, and you may not have any hydraulic system period.  You may not have any brakes to use, differential breaking so it just slides down the runway and goes where it wants to go.”

The agency tweeted two photos of crews bringing the cockpit voice and flight data recorders to Washington to determine what happened.

Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines’ Vice President of Communication & Outreach says, “We have also flown an investigative crew of our own to New York to coordinate with the NTSB.”

A check with the FAA shows this particular aircraft hasn’t been involved in any previous incidents or accidents.

Southwest says the aircraft is nearly 14 years old, and was just inspected five days ago.

Southwest says its pilots had no warning there were problems with the landing gear.

Kelly says passengers shouldn’t worry about this incident.  “It just happen very often and if there is something wrong with the mechanics, they’ll check wvery airplane, every 737 in the world to see if that problem still exists in other airplanes.”   

An NTSB spokesman tells me the agency is first focusing on the accident itself, and that afterwards, they may look to see if other 737’s have had similar problems with the nose wheel gear.

As for Southwest Airlines, a spokeswoman says they provided passengers on this flight with hotel rooms and meals, and refunded their airfare.

The airline is also giving each passenger two free roundtrip tickets.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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