2016-11-02 / Front Page

Pence Plane ‘Arrested’ In LaGuardia Skid

By Liz Goff
Federal investigators are continuing their probe to determine what caused a plane carrying Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to skid off a runway during a heavy rainstorm at LaGuardia Airport on October 27.

The plane left an Iowa airport several hours before the crash with 37 passengers and 11 crewmembers on board, Port Authority officials said. Most of the passengers were members of Pence’s staff, and the remainder were journalists who accompany Pence on his campaign trail.

The chartered Boeing 737-700 was attempting to land in heavy rain when it overshot LaGuardia Runway 22 at about 7:15 p.m., Port Authority (PA) officials said. Pence later recalled “about ten seconds of uncertainty that followed as the plane skidded down the 7,000-foot runway, stopping just short of the Grand Central Parkway. “Once we were on the ground we could feel they were trying to brake and stop the plane as quickly as possible,” Pence explained.

A Port Authority spokesperson said the plane was saved from a catastrophic landing on the Grand Central Parkway by a bed of “arrestor blocks,” a layer of elevated, easily crushable concrete blocks that crumble under the weight of an airplane and safely stop the aircraft if it skids or overshoots the runway.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) requires airports to install a “runway safety area,” that is normally 500-feet-wide and 1,000-feet beyond runways, the PA spokesperson said.

Many U.S. airports, including LaGuardia, were built before the 1,000-foot standard was established, the spokesperson explained.  Port Authority engineers helped design the arrestor blocks in the mid-1990s.

The arrestor blocks have been installed at airports like LaGuardia, that are located close to water, adjacent to residential neighborhoods or near highly trafficked highways such as the Grand Central Parkway, the spokesperson said.

Port Authority officials said the impact of the landing destroyed 80 of the arrestor block barriers. The plane remained where it skidded to a stop until NTSB investigators performed a preliminary inspection.

NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudson said investigators would “piece together” whatever caused the plane to skid, and would check the plane’s maintenance records as part of their probe. Investigators would also be checking the arrestor blocks to determine how well the safety measure performed, Knudson said. “There is a lot of information we hope to learn from this,” he added.

Pence twittered a message following the incident expressing gratitude that everyone on board was safe. He also praised New York City’s first responders, and said he and his staffers were grateful to see the dozens of firefighters, police officers and medical technicians that were waiting on the tarmac to assist them.

Port Authority executive director, Patrick Foye, said the aircraft sustained no damage. Foye refused to comment on the speed of the plane as it approached the runway, or what might have caused the plane to skid out of control.





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