The PJ Tatler

LaGuardia: When Do Airports Decide Conditions Are Too Dangerous?

Aaron Karp, senior editor of trade publication Air Transport World, tells PJ Media how that runway was open at LaGuardia today:

It’s FAA’s call on whether to keep an airport operating.

However, airlines can cancel flights going to airports they think may be shut down, and ultimately pilots can decide to divert if they think the weather is too bad.

Generally, operations continue when there is just a couple of inches of snow on the ground, especially at northern airports (Canadian airports almost never shut down).

In this case, controllers are saying planes that were landing before the Delta flight reported no problems braking, and a wind check before the Delta plane was cleared to land was OK. …

I’m sure the weather conditions will be a focus of the NTSB investigation, but airports do operate regularly in such conditions. Runway excursions on landing are an ongoing safety concern and often are the worst accidents. Just yesterday, a Turkish Airlines A330 ran off the runway landing in Nepal, though no one was hurt …

According to the International Air Transport Association, from 2009-2013 there were 98 runway/taxiway excursions globally among commercial airlines, comprising 23% of airline accidents, the most of any category of accidents.

Another thing to watch in the investigation: Pilots make a “landing distance assessment” prior to takeoff. One question here is whether the pilots revised that assessment prior to landing based on the conditions at LaGuardia at the time of the landing. That has been an issue in the past.

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