On March 5, 2015, Delta Airlines Flight 1086, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88 airplane, ran off the runway after landing in poor weather conditions. The airplane struck a perimeter fence at the airport and came to a rest with its nose over Flushing Bay.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and it will be many weeks before the NTSB releases its final factual report and probable cause findings. The NTSB, however, has released some factual information, including the following:
1. The pilots had the airplane's autopilot engaged until about 230 feet above the ground.
2. The airplane landed at about 133 nautical miles per hour, commonly referred to as knots (about 153 statute miles per hour).
3. The airplane deviated to the left shortly after landing and the captain reported that he was not able to stop the left drift.
4. The crew said that they relied on reports from air traffic control on runway braking conditions in making the decision to land at the airport.
5. The runway appeared to be covered in white when they broke out of the overcast conditions shortly before landing.
6. They were using the airplane's autobrake system at maximum, but the crew did not perceive any braking action.
7. The first officer had to manually deploy the spoilers because they did not deploy automatically.
The pilots' report of a white runway may call into question the Port Authority's claim that the runway had been recently plowed and the runway conditions will be a primary focus of the investigation. The investigation will also focus on the MD-88 system's - the auto brake, anti-skid, automatic spoilers and thrust reversers. The investigators will determine why the braking action was not successful, why the spoilers did not automatically deploy and many other issues.
We expect that the main focus of the investigation will be on the weather and runway conditions.
The investigation will look at the actions of the Port Authority, which was responsible for keeping the runway clear of contaminants, including snow and ice, the air traffic controllers who were communicating with the pilots and who decided that runway 13 would be in use, and Delta Airlines, which dispatched the airplane to New York and whose pilots were the ultimate authority for the crew's and passengers' safety. If the investigators find a mechanical failure, they will expand the scope of the investigation.
We hope that the investigation will lead to improvements to aviation safety, especially regarding winter operations.
The law permits the passengers to seek compensation for their physical and mental injuries from the parties responsible for the crash landing. Under New York law, injured passengers have up to three years to bring a claim against Delta Airlines, but different notice of claim requirements exist for any claim based on air traffic controller or Port Authority failures.