National Transportation Safety Board determined that the captain’s failed
attempt to recover from an unstabilized approach by transferring airplane
control at low altitude instead of performing a go-around, caused a hard
landing at LaGuardia International Airport (LGA) in Queens, New York.
July 22, 2013, a Boeing 737, operated as Southwest Airlines flight 345, landed
hard, nose-first, on runway 4 at LGA. Of the 144 passengers and five
crewmembers on board, eight sustained minor injuries and the airplane was
to the accident was the captain’s failure to comply with standard operating
procedures during the approach. NTSB found that the first officer was
conducting the approach, and the captain took control away from the first
officer, but not until the plane was 27 feet above the ground. This late
transfer of control from the first officer to the captain resulted in neither
pilot being able to effectively monitor the airplane’s altitude and pitch
attitude. According to the Southwest Airlines Flight Operations Manual, the
captain should have called for a go-around well before this point in the
approach instead of trying to salvage the landing.
example, Southwest’s stabilized approach criteria require an immediate
go-around if the airplane flaps are not in the final landing configuration by
1,000 feet above the ground. In this case, the flaps were not correctly set
until the airplane was 500 feet above the ground.
To view the full report, including the findings and probable cause,