Thursday, March 05, 2015

McDonnell Douglas MD-88, N909DL, Delta Air Lines: Accident occurred March 05, 2015 at La Guardia Airport (KLGA), New York

Delta Air Lines Inc was sued on Tuesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for damage caused when a jet skidded off a runway at LaGuardia Airport during a March 5, 2015, snowstorm.

The complaint seeks $750,047 for property damage and other costs that allegedly occurred when Flight 1086 veered off Runway 13 after touchdown, struck a fence and came to rest on an embankment, just short of plunging into frigid Flushing Bay.

According to the Port Authority, which operates the airport, the incident "was caused solely by the negligence of Delta and its agents," including the pilot of the MD-88 aircraft.

The complaint filed in the state supreme court in Manhattan did not specify what damage occurred.

Delta declined to comment. The Port Authority had no immediate additional comment.

A September 2016 report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the incident was probably caused by the pilot's use of excessive reverse thrust, resulting in an "inability to maintain directional control" of the airplane.

It said other factors were the pilot's focus on other aspects of the landing, and stress resulting from concern about stopping on the relatively short, snow-covered runway.

None of the 127 passengers and five crew members was seriously injured, though 29 passengers suffered minor injuries, the NTSB said.

A Delta Air Lines jet with 125 passengers and five crew members on board skidded off the runway and hit a chain-link fence while landing at New York’s La Guardia Airport on Thursday morning. There were about two-dozen injuries, most of which were minor, authorities said. Here’s what you need to know about jetliners leaving the runway while landing:

1.)   How Frequently Do Such Accidents Occur?

Rolling or sliding off the side or the end of a runway during landing is the most frequent type of airliner accident world-wide, with more than three dozen commercial flights on average trundling off snowy or wet strips each year. So-called runway excursions have climbed sharply in recent years to become the primary cause of major damage to airliners world-wide. But they rank relatively low on the list of causes of fatalities. According to some accident data bases, runway excursions have accounted for nearly half of all major crashes globally since the 1990s but less than one-sixth of fatalities. Historically, that still has meant an average of 80 or more fatalities annually.

2.)   Why Are There Fewer Fatalities Versus Other Crash Categories?

Runway overruns typically happen when aircraft already are braking or otherwise trying to slow down, so the impact forces tend to be less than accidents during approach or takeoff. In addition, enhanced regulations over the years have strengthened seats to better protect passengers, prevent seats from breaking loose and changed internal cabin materials to reduce the likelihood of fires if planes do rupture or landing gear are ripped off at impact. Improved emergency-response training also has helped produce fewer fatalities. U.S. authorities also have committed some $3 billion as part of a mandatory a policy of enlarging buffer zones at the ends of certain runways, or installing a special crushable surfaces designed to safely stop aircraft if they end up off strips.  According to the FAA, since 1999 such material has successfully stopped eight aircraft, preventing more serious incidents at U.S. airports.

3.)   What Pilot Training Improvements Are Underway to Reduce Dangers?

Regulators, pilot unions and safety experts have been striving for years on various fronts to prevent runway crashes. Airlines increasingly have stressed strict cockpit discipline to ensure that pilots don’t touch down if their aircraft is flying too fast or approaching the runway at an excessively steep rate of descent. Such missteps can lead to landing too far down the strip, which is the primary cause of runway overruns. So-called stabilized approaches–requiring planes to be at precisely the right speed and altitude–are supposed to be followed during the last 500 or 1,000 feet of every landing approach. International air-safety officials and industry-sponsored groups have distributed thousands of training packages and related materials stressing those principles to airlines and pilots around the world.

4.)   Is There New Technology Available to Prevent Runway Overruns?

Modern aircraft are equipped with antiskid brakes, designed to automatically adjust pressure depending on aircraft weight, weather and other factors. European plane maker Airbus has been among those leading the way with additional onboard equipment to prevent runway excursions. The technology, which provides pilots with real-time data about braking distance, also issues explicit warnings when computers determine that an approaching aircraft won’t be able to safely stop after touchdown under given weather and runway conditions. Moreover, a number of companies and airlines have tested cutting-edge technology to provide more accurate and timely information to pilots about detailed conditions on the tarmac, particularly during bad weather. The updates aim to replace subjective reports pilots now provide to air-traffic controllers in radio transmissions, information which is then passed on to other crews preparing to land.

5.)    What Are Some Other Runway Accidents That Avoided Fatalities?

Runway overruns in previous years may have amounted to as much as 45% of the overall safety risk facing airlines globally, according to leaders of the International Air Transport Association, the largest industry trade group. In 2009, an American Airlines Boeing 737 skidded off the runway and broke into three sections while landing in stormy weather in Kingston, Jamaica. Dozens of passengers received minor injuries in the crash, which raised questions about how well some jetliner braking systems perform on various runway surfaces in rainy conditions. Four years earlier, an Air France A340 landing in Toronto amid stormy weather was unable to stop on the runway, careened to the left down a slope and caught fire. The aircraft was destroyed, yet all of the 309 people onboard were evacuated without a fatality.

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