2015-03-11 / Front Page

Feds Investigate Pilot’s Speed In LaGuardia Crash

BY LIZ GOFF

Federal investigators are trying to determine if excessive speed played a part in the March 5 crash of a Delta jet that nearly wound up in Flushing Bay.


Law enforcement sources said investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are in possession of flight data and cockpit voice recorders from Delta Flight 1086, which should give them the plane’s landing speed and other factors that will help determine the cause of the crash.


Delta Flight 1086 touched down on LaGuardia’s Runway 13 from Atlanta at about 11 a.m., at the height of a snowstorm that kept runway crews busy plowing and de-icing the landing field.


The left wing of the MD88 aircraft was mangled in the crash that sent the nose of the jet slamming through a fence, stopping just feet from the bay, authorities said.


FDNY officials said none of the 127 passengers and five crewmembers on board the flight were seriously hurt, but 28 people suffered minor injuries, and two were taken to local hospitals.


Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said the twin-engine plane, after touching down on Runway 13, veered off the left side of the tarmac, 4,500 to 5,000 feet along the 7,000-foot landing strip.


The damaged nose jutted over a 12-foot seawall through a large portion of the fence, echoing past crashes at the Queens airport including:


•    USAir Flight 5050 to Charlotte, North Carolina crashed during an aborted takeoff at LaGuardia , killing two and injuring 21 of the 63 people on board.


•    USAir Flight 405, which crashed on a snowy runway at takeoff from LaGuardia on March 22,1992. The plane tumbled into Flushing Bay, killing 27 of the 51 people on board.


•    Continental Airlines Flight 705 to Denver aborted takeoff during a snowstorm at LaGuardia on March 2, 1994. The plane skidded down a runway and slammed to a halt on a seawall. All 105 people on board the flight survived the crash.


Area residents responded to the incidents, rushing to the airport with blankets, shoes and clothing and hot coffee for the rescued passengers.


Authorities said fog and snow limited visibility to one-quarter of a mile at the time of Thursday’s crash, and winds coming from the north (behind the plane) at 11 mph may have added to conditions on the runway.


Foye said it is unclear what caused the jet to skid, noting that two planes landed just before Flight 1086, with crews reporting “good braking action on the runway.” Foye also said Runway 13 had been plowed just minutes before the failed landing.


“It was ultimately the pilot’s decision to land the plane,” Foye said. “When the plane started to skid the pilot did everything in his power to slow the aircraft down.”


Delta officials released a statement saying the airline “will work with all authorities and stakeholders to look into what happened in this case. Our priority is making sure our customers and crewmembers are safe.”


Queens firefighters, police and other first responders boarded the aircraft shortly after the crash to check on passengers and assist then down a chute to the tarmac, where dozens of ambulance and emergency vehicles surrounded the plane.

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