Several failures in close succession by a jetliner’s flight crew were the probable cause of Oct. 27, 2016, runway excursion at LaGuardia Airport, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) final report issued Thursday.
The Eastern Air Lines Boeing 737-700, a chartered flight carrying then vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence and campaign staff, overran Runway 22 during landing on the rainy evening. The airplane departed the runway and partially transited an arrester bed of crushable concrete before coming to a stop about 170 feet past the end of the runway. None of the 11 crewmembers or 37 passengers were hurt in the incident. The plane sustained minor damage.
Data from the flight recorder and post-incident interviews with the flight crew indicated the 737 was on a stabilized approach to Runway 22 until the landing flare, when it “floated” for thousands of feet, finally touching down more than 4,200 feet past the threshold of the 7,001-foot runway, leaving less than 2,800 feet of runway surface for the 737 to decelerate and stop.
What went wrong
The NTSB said when the first officer, who was at the controls, failed to get the jet’s wheels on the ground within the first third of the runway, or 2,300 feet, he should have executed a go-around maneuver instead of continuing the landing attempt.
During the landing roll, contrary to procedures, the captain didn’t announce he was assuming control of the airplane, which resulted in each pilot attempting directional inputs that were at odds with the other. This breakdown of basic crew resource management along with the captain’s failure to call for a go-around demonstrated, “a lack of command authority.” This, along with pilot actions, including starting the flare at an altitude almost twice as high as Boeing recommends, delays in reducing throttles and manually deploying the speed brakes, all contributed to the excursion, the NTSB said.
Eastern Air Lines management told the NTSB that it has since developed specific flight crew training to address the safety issues identified during the investigation.