Runways reopen after plane collapse

Runways reopen after plane collapse

A jet whose nose gear collapsed after landing at a New York airport has been removed from the runway.

LaGuardia Airport said a crane loaded the plane onto a flatbed truck and it was taken to a hangar allowing both the airport’s runways to be put back in service.

The nose gear on the Southwest Airlines plane collapsed when the flight coming from Nashville landed, injuring 10 passengers, six of whom needed hospital treatment. The six crew members were taken to another hospital for observation.

There were 150 people on board.

Thomas Bosco, acting director of aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the incident forced the temporary closure of the airport, with one runway coming back into service at around 7pm local time last night.

Mr Bosco said the nose gear of the plane collapsed when it landed at 5.40pm and “the aircraft skidded down the runway on its nose and then veered off and came to rest in the grass area”.

He said there was no advance warning of any possible problem before the landing.

A passenger, Sergeant 1st Class Anniebell Hanna, 43, of the South Carolina National Guard, said the flight had been delayed leaving Nashville. Passengers had heard an announcement saying “something was wrong with a tyre”, she said, waiting in a room at LaGuardia several hours after the incident.

At LaGuardia, “when we got ready to land, we nosedived”, she said. She and some family members were coming to New York for a visit.

“I hit my head against the seat in front of me,” she said. “I hit hard.”

Emergency crews were seen spraying foam towards the front end of the plane on the tarmac. The Port Authority said the passengers exited the plane by using chutes.

Sgt Hanna said she was among the first to get off the plane, and could smell something burning when she got down to the tarmac. The passengers were put on a bus and taken to the terminal, where they were told to make lists of their possessions on the plane in order to get them back.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, as is the National Transportation Safety Board.

Richard Strauss, who was on a nearby plane waiting to take off for Washington, said the nose of the plane was “completely down on the ground. It’s something that I’ve never seen before. It’s bizarre.”

A rear stairwell or slide could be seen extending from the Southwest flight, said Mr Strauss, who owns a Washington public relations firm. His plane, which was about 100 yards (90m) from the Southwest flight, was not allowed to taxi back to the gate, he added.

Bobby Abtahi, a lawyer trying to catch a flight to Dallas, was watching from the terminal and heard a crowd reacting to the accident.

“I heard some people gasp and scream. I looked over and saw sparks flying at the front of the plane,” he said.

The incident came 16 days after Asiana Flight 214 crash-landed at San Francisco’s international airport on July 6, killing two Chinese teenagers. A third was killed when a fire truck ran over her while responding to the crash, authorities said. Dozens of people were injured in that landing, which involved a Boeing 777 flying from South Korea.

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