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NYC airport fully reopens after jet's hard landing

23 July 2013, 14:31

New York - New York City's LaGuardia Airport fully reopened on Tuesday, a day after the collapse of a plane's front landing gear sent it skidding along the tarmac and causing the airport temporarily closed.

The nose gear of Southwest Airlines flight 345 arriving from Nashville, Tennessee, collapsed Monday right after the plane touched down on the runway, officials said.

"When we got ready to land, we nosedived," said a passenger, Sgt. 1st Class Anniebell Hanna of the South Carolina National Guard.

Ten passengers were treated at the scene, and six were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, said Thomas Bosco, acting director of aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the area airports. The six crew members were taken to another hospital for observation.

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

He said the nose gear of the plane collapsed when it landed at 5:40 pm, and "the aircraft skidded down the runway on its nose and then veered off and came to rest in the grass area."

He said the collapse closed the airport for more than an hour. Both the airport's runways were back in use by Tuesday morning, a Port Authority spokesman said, and the plane was being moved to a hangar.

Dallas-based Southwest said 150 people were on the flight, while the Port Authority said the total was 149.

The flight was delayed leaving Nashville. Passengers heard an announcement saying "something was wrong with a tire," said Hanna, 43. She and some family members were coming to New York for a visit.

When the plane landed, "I hit my head against the seat in front of me," she said. "I hit hard."

The nose of the plane was "completely down on the ground," said Richard Strauss, who was on a nearby plane waiting to take off. "It's something that I've never seen before. It's bizarre."

Emergency crews were seen spraying foam toward the front end of the plane on the tarmac.

A rear stairwell or slide could be seen extending from the Southwest flight, said Strauss, who owns a Washington public relations firm. His plane, which was about 100 yards from the Southwest flight, wasn't allowed to taxi back to the gate, he said.

The Port Authority said the passengers exited the plane by using chutes. 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.

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

- AP


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