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24 July 2013

NTSB launches investigation of Southwest Airlines LaGuardia accident

22 July 2013;Southwest Airlines 737-700; flight 345; LaGuardia Airport, New York, NY: The airliner, with 145 passengers and five crew members on board, was on a scheduled flight from Nashville, TN to New York, had a problem after landing which led to a collapsed nose landing gear and a runway excursion.

After the aircraft came to a stop in a grassy area adjacent to the runway, the occupants evacuated the aircraft using the emergency slides. Nine of the occupants were treated for minor injuries, and no one was serious injured or killed.

The NTSB has launched a formal investigation of this accident, and has already begun processing the information from the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. While this is not a major investigation on the scale of what is happening with Asiana flight 214, this will be a more extensive investigation than what would normally happen after a typical landing gear accident. This is likely because of the level of damage caused by this event.

As can be seen in the photo below, the nose landing gear not only collapsed, it was also pushed up into the electronics bay beneath the cockpit.

Why so much media attention to this accident? While the response of the NTSB is typical for this kind of accident, the media response is not. While it did not garner the kind of nonstop coverage that happened on major cable news shows after the Asiana crash, it has two qualities that are often associated with high levels of media coverage of airline events:

  • It involved a major US airline, and
  • It occurred in New York, the most influential media market in the US, and arguably in the the entire English-speaking world.

The last point is possibly the most important since not only do many US news and broadcast media organizations have headquarters in New York, many of the people who work at those organizations use the airport where the accident occurred. Had the same event occurred at a US airport that was not in a major media market, it is unlikely that this event would have led to much media coverage.

Additional resources
Previous Southwest events

Photo: NTSB; Video: Bobby Abtahi

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