NTSB: In LaGuardia nose-first landing, captain took controls from first officer
At an altitude of 400 feet, the captain took control from the first officer of a Southwest Airlines plane that landed nose gear first at LaGuardia Airport last month, federal officials said.
Sixteen people were hurt when Southwest Flight 345 made the hard landing on July 22.
The National Transportation Safety Board's second investigative update into the accident said the Boeing 737-700 "touched down on the runway nose first, followed by the collapse of the nose gear; the airplane was substantially damaged."
The flight originated in Nashville, Tenn., and had 150 people on board.
The NTSB said that the plane did not seem to malfunction.
"At this point in the investigation, no mechanical anomalies or malfunctions have been found," read the update. "A preliminary examination of the nose gear indicated that it failed due to stress overload."
The captain who took the controls from his less-experienced first officer has been a Southwest pilot for almost 13 years. He had accumulated more than 12,000 total flight hours, more than 7,000 of them as pilot-in-command, the NTSB said.
The first officer has been a Southwest pilot for about 18 months and had accumulated about 5,200 total flight hours, with 4,000 of those as pilot-in-command, the agency said.
The captain, who had been monitoring the landing into LaGuardia, which had been delayed about 15 minutes because of weather, took over from the first officer just before the crash landing, the agency said.
Former US Airways pilot John Cox, an Air Line Pilots Association accident investigator, told The Associated Press that such midair, last-minute changes are rare. But he added that neither of the pilots may be at fault for the hard landing.
Southwest Airlines officials could not be reached for comment, but Brad Hawkins, a spokesman, told The Associated Press that the airline "can verify the information the NTSB has provided is accurate."
The crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Southwest Airlines, and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.