Southwest Airlines has fired the captain who piloted the Boeing 737 jet that landed so hard at New York City's LaGuardia Airport in July that the airplane's nose gear collapsed, injuring more than a dozen people and jamming air traffic for hours.
"Upon completion of our internal review of the Flight 345 accident, last week the captain was terminated and the first officer is being required to undergo additional training," the airline said in a statement Wednesday.
The airline said that it continues to cooperate the National Transportation Safety Board in its ongoing probe of the July 22 incident, which injured 16 people.
Read more about the dramatic hard-landing at NBCNewYork.com
Of the 150 people aboard the flight from Nashville, three passengers, the two pilots and three flight attendants were treated and released from the hospital with the minor injuries.
NTSB investigators have said the captain abruptly took over from the first officer some 400 feet from the ground as the plane neared LaGuardia. The craft landed on its nose gear, which then collapsed. The Boeing 737 then skidded and sparked before coming to rest in a nearby patch of grass.
The aircraft’s speed was approximately 133 knots when it pitched down approximately 3 degrees at landing and then skidded to a stop within about 19 seconds, according to the NTSB.
Steve Czech, who was on the runway waiting for his American Airlines flight to take off, told NBC New York that he saw the Southwest plane touch down.
"There was just this fireball going down the runway. It was unbelievable — it was probably 300 yards from us, if that," Czech said.
"Clearly, there was no nose gear," he added. "It was just screeching down the runway, fire on both sides. There was debris kind of rolling off to the sides."
The hard landing on the tarmac, which forced an evacuation via the plane's emergency chutes, shut down parts of the airport overnight as crews worked to remove the aircraft.
The Dallas-based airline has not publicly identified the pilots.
A spokeswoman for Southwest told the Associated Press the landing was not “in accordance” with operating procedures for the airline.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Crews remove damaged jet after hard landing at LaGuardia
First published October 2 2013, 5:44 PM