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LaGuardia Airport reopens as probe begins in Southwest jet incident

July 23, 2013|By Tina Susman

NEW YORK -- LaGuardia Airport reopened here early Tuesday after cranes were used to lift the nose of a disabled Southwest Airlines jet and remove it from a runway following the collapse of its front landing gear.

In a statement, the Dallas-based airline said all of the passengers and crew who had been taken to hospitals after Monday evening’s rough landing had been released. It said the aircraft involved, a Boeing 737-700, had been inspected just last Thursday and had entered service in October 1999.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing are investigating what caused Flight 345, arriving from Nashville about 5:40 p.m., to lose its front landing gear as it touched down at LaGuardia. Airport manager Thomas Bosco said the plane skidded hundreds of feet down the runway on its nose before veering to the side and grinding to a halt in a grassy area.

Video captured by people in nearby jets showed the plane sliding, sparks spraying from beneath it as the metal scraped along the tarmac. After emergency responders from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the area’s major airports, sprayed foam around the aircraft to prevent a fire, passengers evacuated down emergency chutes.

Bosco said 10 people suffered minor injuries, but Southwest put the number at eight, including three passengers and five crew members. It said there were 150 people on board, including one infant.

LaGuardia has just two runways, so the closure of Runway 4, where the Southwest jet had landed, caused massive delays. By early Tuesday the runway was reopened, but delays continued to plague travelers at LaGuardia due in part to the aftermath of the incident and in part to cloudy weather.

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