Southwest Airlines fires pilot after nose-first landing at LaGuardia

A Southwest Airlaine plane landed at LaGuardia Airport

A Southwest Airlaine plane landed at LaGuardia Airport without the front landing gear, officials say, injuring multiple passengers. (July 22, 2013) (Credit: @mattjfriedman and Frank Ferramosca)

Southwest Airlines has fired the captain who was at the controls of a plane that landed nose-first at LaGuardia Airport in July, injuring nine people and snarling air traffic for hours.

The captain, a Southwest pilot for 13 years whom airline officials did not identify, took control from the less-experienced first officer just before the crash, when the plane was 400 feet above the ground.

Southwest also ordered the first officer, who had been with the airline for about 18 months, to undergo more training, spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said in an email Wednesday.


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The airline acted after completing its investigation into the July 22 crash, she said. She declined to name the pilots or answer emailed questions, citing an open investigation by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. The agency has previously said it found no evidence of mechanical failure.

Flight 345 originated in Nashville, Tenn., and had 150 people on board. Weather had delayed landing by 15 minutes.

Pointed 3 degrees downward, the Boeing 737-700 struck the runway first with its nose gear, instead of settling onto the main wheels located beneath the wings, the NTSB said in a July 25 news release.

The forward gear broke, snapping rearward and damaging an electronics bay. The jet slid 2,175 feet and stopped after about 19 seconds, the NTSB said.

The president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, Mark Richardson, said in a statement that the union was "disappointed with the company's decision to terminate the employment of the captain."

A phone call to the NTSB press office was not returned.

With AP

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