Southwest Airlines landing gear collapse causing flight delays, cancellations

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July 23, 2013 5:10:30 AM PDT
The front landing gear of a Southwest Airlines plane collapsed after landing Monday at LaGuardia Airport in New York, injuring nearly a dozen people.

It also shut down that busy airport Monday leading to delays and cancellations around the country, including Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

LaGuardia Airport not yet back to normal, with dozens of delays and cancellations, causing at least one cancellation from O'Hare and few other delayed flights.

Passengers aboard the Southwest Airlines flight 737 from Nashville describe frightening moments aboard the jet.

"It sort of came down really fast and kind of steep and then it sort of banged, and then it banged again and then it sort of skidded to a stop," one passenger said.

The landing was all caught on video, sparks flying from the nose of the jet as it skidded to a stop.

"The whole plane just went down very quickly and um that's when the door blew in," another passenger said.

The front landing gear apparently collapsed right after touching down on the runway.

Windy City Live's Ryan Chiaverini was on another jet waiting to take off nearby and snapped a picture of the jet.

"I can see out the window, Southwest airplane on its belly," Chiaverini said. "I can still see smoke coming out. It was screeching to a stop by the time I could take a look at it."

One hundred forty-nine people were on the plane. At least eight people suffered minor injuries and have reported "back and neck pain". Four other people suffered anxiety attacks.

Officials shut down operations at LaGuardia Airport following the crash landing, which led to the cancelation of dozens of flights from Chicago to LaGuardia.

The flight took off at 2:33 p.m. local time from Nashville. It was scheduled to arrive at LaGuardia at 5:10 p.m.

Southwest released a statement saying, "Southwest Airlines flight 345 landed at New York's LaGuardia at 5:40 PM Eastern Monday evening from Nashville. The aircraft is a Boeing 737-700. Eyewitness reports indicate the aircraft's nosegear collapsed upon landing. There were 150 people on board including Customers and Crew. All Customers have been deplaned and transferred to the terminal. Initial reports indicate local responders are caring for five Customers and three flight attendants who have reported injuries at this time. Southwest is cooperating with local authorities, and the NTSB has been notified."

The NTSB is sending an investigator to the accident.

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.

Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement saying, "Earlier this evening, the Port Authority Police Department and LaGuardia Airport staff took quick and decisive action to ensure the safety and well-being of the passengers of Southwest Airlines Flight 345," Governor Cuomo said. "We are all grateful that there were no fatalities and do not appear to be any serious injuries resulting from the collapse of this flight's landing gear. I commend the actions of the Port Authority personnel and all emergency workers who assisted with the safe evacuation of Flight 345's passengers and crew."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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