(NEW YORK) — The pilot of a Southwest Airlines flight that landed nose-first at LaGuardia Airport in 2013 took control of the aircraft just 27 feet above the ground after an “unstabilized descent” by the co-pilot, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday.
The Boeing 737 slammed into the runway nose-first, driving the nose gear into the belly of the aircraft and injuring eight passengers. Instead of landing, officials said the pilot should have pulled up.
The pilot –- who allegedly took control after the first officer had already begun what turned out to be an unstabilized descent –- failed to comply with standard operating procedure, which likely contributed to the hard landing, according to the NTSB.
“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,” the NTSB said in a statement. “Contributing to the accident was the captain’s failure to comply with standard operating procedures during the approach.”
Instead of trying to “salvage the landing,” the captain should have gained altitude and attempted the landing a second time, according to Southwest rules.
Following an internal investigation by Southwest, the captain, who had flown with the airline for 13 years, was terminated in September 2013, and the first officer received additional training before resuming flight duty.
“We fully cooperated with the NTSB investigation and since the event, our Flight Operations policies and training programs have been thoroughly reviewed to ensure required procedures are clear, comprehensive and support a safe operation,” Southwest said in a statement today to ABC.
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