Southwest Plane's Nose Gear Landed First in LaGuardia Hard Landing: NTSB

Ten people were injured when the plane made a hard landing at the airport

The National Transportation Safety Board says a Southwest Airlines plane's nose gear made contact with the ground before the main landing gear did when it touched down at LaGuardia Airport Monday, causing the plane to skid and spark down the runway. 

A spokeswoman for Southwest said the landing described by the NTSB was "not in accordance'' with operating procedures.

The latest updates from the NTSB's investigation into Flight 345's hard landing were consistent with their earlier findings that the landing gear "collapsed rearward and upward into the fuselage, damaging the electronics bay that houses avionics."

The NTSB added Thursday that the flaps were set from 30 to 40 degrees about 56 seconds prior to touchdown. About four seconds prior to touchdown, the plane was at an altitude of about 32 feet, with an airspeed of about 134 knots and a pitch attitude of 2 degrees nose-up.

"As the plane comes down toward the runway, it's supposed to have the nose up about 2 degrees above the horizon and continue descending at that angle so that when it touches the runway, it touches on the main gear," said Tom Bunn, a retired airline pilot. 

At touchdown, the airspeed of the Southwest plane was approximately 133 knots and the aircraft was pitched down about 3 degrees. 

Bunn believes NTSB should be investigating whether a pilot's error is to blame. 

Investigators are continuing to study the more than 27 hours of recorded data from the entire flight from Nashville, Tenn. to New York. A two-hour cockpit voice recording "of excellent quality" illustrating the entire accident landing sequence was also recovered, and investigators said relevant portions will be transcribed in a meeting in Washington, D.C. Friday. 

Sixteen people suffered minor injuries during Flight 345's landing, and passengers had to escape on emergency chutes.

-- Ida Siegal contributed to this report. 

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