Feds Have Plenty of Questions On LaGuardia Runway Slide

NEW YORK (AP) -
A plane on Thursday rests near the water at LaGuardia as passengers evacuate. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle - Amber Reid)
A plane on Thursday rests near the water at LaGuardia as passengers evacuate. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle – Amber Reid)

As the National Transportation Safety Board begins its investigation into a Delta jetliner that slid off a runway while landing during a snowstorm at LaGuardia Airport, there is no shortage of questions:

How big a factor was the snow? Was the runway too slippery? Could it have been a mechanical problem? Did the pilot come in too fast?

Thursday’s accident of Flight 1086 from Atlanta caused only minor injuries to six passengers, but it was a scary case of what could have been at an airport notorious for its relatively short runways and proximity to water. The plane packed with 130 people smashed through a perimeter fence and came to rest just feet from the icy waters of Flushing Bay.

A plane on Thursday rests near the water at LaGuardia as passengers evacuate. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle - Amber Reid)
A plane on Thursday rests near the water at LaGuardia as passengers evacuate. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle – Amber Reid)

Delta said all passengers have been fully refunded and that crews worked through the night to begin returning belongings to passengers.

Aviation experts said the slide may have been caused by a snowy runway or a bad approach to the runway.

Maintaining a runway during bad weather is similar to a highway, except an aircraft is operating at a much higher speed. A vehicle races down the runway with a computer checking braking action, and if the runway fails the test it must be closed.