Pilot Grabbed Controls Shortly Before Plane Crash-Landed at La Guardia

By ANDY PASZTOR via online.WSJ.com

On July 22, 2013, a Southwest Airlines jet crash-landed at La Guardia Airport in  New York City.

On July 22, 2013, a Southwest Airlines jet crash-landed at La Guardia Airport in New York City. GETTY IMAGES via online.wsj.com

Southwest Airlines Co. jet crash-landed on a runway at New York City’s La Guardia Airport in July 2013 after the captain unexpectedly pulled back engine power while the co-pilot was still flying the aircraft, according to federal investigators.

Documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board at the end of October indicate the captain unilaterally put the engines essentially into idle at the wrong instant—causing the Boeing 737’s nose to drop sharply—without warning as she placed her hand on the co-pilot’s hand, which was still on the throttles, and moved them.

Only seconds after that, with the plane barely 50 feet above the strip, did the captain take the required step to verbalize she was taking over flying responsibilities by telling the co-pilot: “I got it.”

NTSB documents indicate the captain violated company and industry safety standards, which require pilots to work as a team, and in all cases, they must declare their intentions before taking over controls or changing any flight-control settings.

The captain, who was 49 years old at the time of the incident and had more than 7,500 hours behind the controls of a 737, was fired by the carrier about two months later.

Her co-pilot, a former fighter pilot and flight instructor for the Air Force who had started flying for Southwest the year before, was retrained and has returned to flying status.

Nine people sustained minor injuries in the crash landing.

Full story, here.

The National Transportation Safety Board docket can be found, here.

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