Clear for landing? Testing runway readiness

Plane skids off runway, stops feet from water's edge
Plane skids off runway, stops feet from water's edge

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    Plane skids off runway, stops feet from water's edge

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Plane skids off runway, stops feet from water's edge 01:40

Story highlights

  • Port Authority chief: Runway was just plowed, other pilots reported "good braking action"
  • The NTSB is sending people to New York's LaGuardia Airport to investigate

(CNN)A Delta airplane had a close call Thursday, skidding off a snowy runway and stopping within feet of icy waters.

Any accident raises questions, and the National Transportation Safety Board is sending people to New York's LaGuardia Airport to investigate.
Although the cause of the crash is not yet clear, officials will no doubt be looking at the conditions on the runway.
    Was it cleared and ready? Did the pilot have all relevant information?
    CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo breaks down the responsibilities around runways.
    "There are a couple of things that airports have to do," she said. "The airport has to go out and measure whether the airport runways have friction, meaning when those tires touch down that they will have some contact with the runway."
    That information is then relayed to the air traffic control tower, according to Schiavo.
    "As to whether the runways are slippery, that is breaking action, and the airport gets that from the reports of previous pilots," she said.
    Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Patrick Foye told reporters that the runway in question had been plowed shortly before the incident. Pilots on previous planes reported "good braking action," he said.
    Just minutes after the Delta plane landed, all of LaGuardia Arport shut down to air traffic. One runway reopened at 2 p.m. ET. The other remained closed.
    Miles O'Brien, another CNN aviation analyst, highlights how difficult it is to understand all the elements in play.
    "The wind was changing. The temperatures were changing. It was moving from rain to freezing rain, ultimately into snow. So you had a very dynamic weather picture, and let's not forget, it's kind of a subjective thing," he said.
    "One pilot might say, 'oh that was no problem,' but he might have learned how to fly in northern Canada."