By Barbara Goldberg and Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - Eight people were injured on Monday when the landing gear on a Southwest Airlines jet collapsed upon touchdown at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, officials said.
LaGuardia, one of the area’s busiest airports, was closed for more than an hour after the Boeing 737 jet landed with its 150 passengers and crew at around 5:45 p.m. EDT (2145 GMT).
Emergency vehicles surrounded the aircraft and emergency passenger exits were lowered, TV images showed.
“The aircraft landed on runway 4 and the landing gear collapsed, the nose wheel collapsed,” Thomas Bosco, the airport’s general manager, told reporters.
Passengers on the flight described a rough touchdown.
“It was just a bang and a bounce and then just a slam on the brakes and then it was a skidding feeling. You could tell they were trying to stop the plane,” Kathy Boles told CNN. “It was very clear as soon as we went down that something was really wrong.”
Port Authority spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden said those hurt during the landing suffered back and neck injuries.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
Southwest said in a statement that all the passengers and crew had been evacuated from the plane, which took off from Nashville, Tennessee. Airline spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said the jet had been inspected on July 18.
NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the agency “will gather more information on the incident from the FAA and the operator and assess the damage to the airplane. From there, decisions will be made regarding any further investigative activity from the NTSB.”
It was the latest in a string of incidents involving Boeing aircraft, which has faced a rash of problems with the recently launched 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Scott Hamilton, an aviation analyst with Leeham Co, said the incident had no connection with Boeing’s recent 787 woes.
“I would characterize this as just another incident. There are tens of thousands of flights worldwide every day, and things happen,” Hamilton said.
Spokesmen for Boeing and United Technologies Corp, a unit of which made the plane’s landing gear, said their companies would also probe the incident.
Early this month a Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines plane crashed in San Francisco. Three people were killed and more than 150 were injured.
Boeing’s Dreamliner was grounded for 3-1/2 months earlier this year after batteries in the plane emitted smoke and in one case caught fire.
Last week, a Japan Airlines Co Ltd 787 returned to Boston’s Logan International Airport after a mechanical indicator light came on. Earlier this month, a fire broke out in a Dreamliner on the ground at London’s Heathrow airport.