The AMFA Aircraft Accident and Investigation Team for Southwest Airlines (SWA) was recently called into service to investigate Flight 345 which took off from Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Nashville, TN and landed at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens, NY. The nose gear collapsed upon landing and the passengers and crew were forced to evacuate.
The Team was mobilized very soon after the incident and it was determined that five members from Phoenix (PHX) and one from Dallas (DAL) would be involved in the investigation. The PHX members boarded the last plane to Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) that night and then caught a reposition ferry to LGA the next morning. The DAL member also arrived Tuesday morning on a charter flight.
Due to worries about a disabled plane blocking a runway for any length of time, SWA brought in a local recovery firm to move the aircraft off the runway with the help of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) from Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) prior to the Team’s arrival. As the Team arrived, the plane was being brought into an American Airlines hangar with the nose on a flatbed truck.
The first priority was to stabilize the aircraft so that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and our Team could begin the investigation. Once initial stabilization had occurred, the Team was able to complete a thorough nose-to-tail inspection of the aircraft. As parts and debris were brought in from the runway, the Team carefully reconstructed the pieces. It was decided that a more stable support platform should be constructed, so in collaboration with the SWA Engineering Department who crafted the design, they successfully built a structure.
In order to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the incident, the nose gear had to be dislodged from the aircraft as it had seriously damaged the aircraft structure and was lodged in the Electronics (E & E) compartment. Now that stable support had been achieved, the Team was better able to survey the damage. Once that had been accomplished, the majority of the Team returned home while the Party Coordinator and another member stayed behind awaiting the aircraft’s release from the NTSB.
AMFA National would like to thank the NTSB and Southwest Airlines for the opportunity to be involved, and offer our expertise, in the Flight 345 incident investigation. We are proud of our safety partnership with SWA and appreciate the safety culture that we continue to work on together.
We are also proud that AMFA is the only Union representing AMTs and related which trains members and utilizes their expertise as part of an Accident/Incident Investigation Team. The ability to offer such a unique and craft specific privilege to our members could not be done without the help of all those who make it happen -- especially the Party Coordinator and Team members, to whom we offer our utmost thanks.