The National Transportation Safety Board has begun its investigation into what caused Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's campaign plane to skid off a runway and into a field at LaGuardia Airport in Queens Thursday night.
About 40 people were aboard the Boeing 737 passenger jet when it ran off the runway about 7:40 p.m. Thursday, Port Authority officials have said. No one was injured.
The plane's maintenance log shows that its "autospeed brake actuator" was "inoperative" at the time of the incident, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said Friday in a press briefing. That piece of equipment arms the plane's speed brake and deploys spoilers that slow down the plane automatically upon landing, he said.
But on a 737, pilots can also manually pull the speed brake handle and in this instance, they did, Sumwalt said, four seconds after the touchdown.
The NTSB has obtained video footage of the plane shortly after touchdown, including footage of it encountering a cloud of dust that was probably caused by hitting the engineered materials arresting system, or EMAS, a runway technology that slows down planes moving beyond the runway.
But the board does not have video of the "precise point of touchdown," Sumwalt said.
"We're very interested in that," he said.
The plane was removed from the runway about 4:30 a.m. yesterday, a Port Authority spokesman said. It is now being inspected by the NTSB.
The incident halted flights at LaGuardia for at least an hour before limited air traffic resumed just after 9 p.m.
On the “Today” show Friday morning, Pence thanked the emergency responders.
“It seemed like the first responders were around the airplane literally when we came to rest,” Pence said. “We’re really grateful everybody’s OK.”
As Pence's plane approached LaGuardia, it passed through hard rain, strong winds and thick fog, passengers said. Turbulence shook the plane violently. When it hit the runway, the jet vibrated and then jerked violently as it careened into a field thick with mud and rain-drenched grass.
The plane was stopped by a crushable type of concrete runway that halted the aircraft's movement, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Thursday night.
When the pilot slammed on the brakes, passengers said they could smell burning rubber. Pence told reporters on the plane that he saw mud on the cockpit windows.
Passengers evacuated the aircraft just after 8 p.m. Upon exiting the plane, the vice presidential nominee shook hands and took photos with firefighters who had responded to the incident.
Pence canceled a planned fundraiser appearance at Trump Tower after the incident, but an aide said he'd be back to his normal schedule on Friday using a different plane.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called Pence to check on him while the presidential candidate was en route to a rally in Geneva, Ohio, the campaign said. "He's glad that everyone on board is safe," Trump spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
At the rally, Trump told the crowd that his running mate's plane "skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave, grave danger."
Hillary Clinton tweeted Thursday night, "Glad to hear @mike_pence, his staff, Secret Service, and the crew are all safe." Her running mate Tim Kaine retweeted the message.
Pence's plane had departed from Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Pence had participated in a campaign event earlier Thursday. Takeoff was delayed about two hours due to the bad weather in New York.
Pence posted a photo on Twitter that showed him throwing a football hours earlier at the airport in Iowa. "A ground hold at Laguardia led to some football on the tarmac in Iowa. #GameOn," the tweet said.
The FAA and NTSB said they will investigate the cause of the incident.
In 2015, a Delta jet was landing in a snowstorm when it slid off a LaGuardia runway and struck a fence before coming to rest on a snow-covered embankment.
- With Newsday