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NTSB Interviews Pilots Who Lost Landing Gear

October 22, 1996| From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Federal investigators questioned two Delta pilots Monday about what may have caused their jet to come in so low that it lost its landing gear and skidded down a La Guardia Airport runway in a violent storm.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Matthew Furman said investigators had no reports of wind shear--sudden gusts that can confuse the readings on a plane's instruments--before Saturday's accident.

Information from the McDonnell Douglas MD-80's flight data recorder, to be analyzed later this week, could indicate whether a wind shear was responsible, Furman said.

He added that a cockpit voice recorder was being analyzed, and the plane was being checked for mechanical problems.

Delta spokesman Bill Berry said the plane's pilot and co-pilot were indefinitely removed from active flight duty, as is routine after an accident.

NTSB investigator Robert Hancock said Flight 554's trip from Atlanta was smooth until it came in for a landing, when it clipped two approach lights and grazed a concrete wall at the start of the runway, shearing off its landing gear. The plane skidded 2,700 feet down the runway.

Four of the 63 people on board were slightly injured sliding down an emergency chute.

The Saturday storm brought driving rain, fog and winds of up to 60 mph to the New York area. National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Tongue said winds calmed to 13 mph at the time of the accident, but rain was heavy and fog still hung over the airport.

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