New Plan Calls For Takeover Of Rikers Island To Expand LaGuardia Runways


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence called the experience of his campaign plane skidding off the runway at LaGuardia Airport “about 10 seconds of uncertainty” but said “all are well.”

Pence, his staff, U.S. Secret Service agents and reporters were back in the air on a new plane Friday, flying from Newark to Trenton, Pennsylvania. Pence will also campaign in North Carolina later Friday.

Crews towed away Pence’s campaign plane early Friday morning ahead of the arrival of National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

Pence, whose wife and son are both pilots, talked about the ordeal on “CBS This Morning.”

“We’re great, thank God,” Pence said. “Our son likes to say every landing you walk away from is a good landing.”

The NTSB on Friday was examining Pence’s plane as part of its investigation into what happened.

The incident occurred around 7:40 p.m. Thursday as the plane was coming into New York from Fort Dodge, Iowa, where it had made a hard landing but stayed on the runway earlier Thursday afternoon.

Upon arriving at LaGuardia, after a bumpy approach, the Boeing 737 Eastern Airlines charter landed roughly, making first contact with the runway concrete. The pilot slammed on the brakes and the plane began to slide sideways.

“As we landed, we had a low ceiling, came in, but once we were on the ground, you could tell they were trying to brake and stop the aircraft as quick as possible,” Pence said Friday.

Passengers, many of them journalists, and witnesses on the ground said the plane fishtailed to a stop.

“I heard a noise, saw a Trump Pence plane make a noise, screeching, and came to a stop right here,” said witness Anthony Rizzuto. “I knew something was wrong when you hear that kind of noise.”

When the plane came to a stop, U.S. Secret Service agents rushed from the back of the plane to the front, where Pence was seated, to check on the candidate. He said he was fine, though, and no one had been injured.

A calm Pence said in the press cabin about a minute after the plane came to rest that mud could be seen on the windows.

Airport officials say the plane was slowed by crushable concrete safety barriers designed to slow aircraft that overshoot the runway.

“Approximately 80 arrester beds were destroyed. Arrester beds are FAA required installations at the end of runways to do exactly the purpose that they served tonight, which is to slow down an aircraft that is approaching the end of the runway,” Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said.

The 37 passengers, including Pence, and 11 crew members were evacuated through the back of the plane. Pence was then seen standing with emergency responders and security on the tarmac in the drenching rain.

In a statement, the Port Authority confirmed that the plane had “overshot” the runway, there were no injuries and there was no fire.

Six seconds before the touchdown of the plane, it was 10 feet above the ground traveling at 130 knots – which is not an unusual speed according to NTSB member Robert Sumwalt. He said the automatic spoilers on the wings were inoperative and needed maintenance, so the pilot knew he had to deploy them manually.

“Normally when the spoilers automatically deploy, they will deploy within about one second of touchdown,” Sumwalt said.

But the spoilers deployed within four seconds. Whether or not that was a factor in the plane overshooting the runway remained to be scene Friday night, WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron reported.

Sumwalt said determining the point of touchdown will be a key to the investigation.

One of the runways reopened soon after the incident Thursday night. The other remained closed while the plane was being removed and reopened early Friday morning.

In Geneva, Ohio, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told his supporters that Pence had come “pretty close to grave, grave danger.” But, he added: “I just spoke to Mike Pence and he’s fine. Everybody’s fine.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Glad to hear @mike_pence, his staff, Secret Service, and the crew are all safe.”

Pence also took time Thursday night to thank firefighters and pose for pictures before arriving at his Manhattan hotel.

Take Over Rikers Island To Expand LaGuardia?

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the accident has some reigniting calls to extend the airport’s runways. At just 7,000 feet, the runways at LaGuardia are short; runways at John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports are more than 10,000 feet.

Short runways cause safety problems and delays.

“I hope it shines a light on the situation. The time has come,” said Jim Venturi of ReThink Studio. “It’s time to think bigger about the city and our infrastructure.”

Venturi has been working on a plan to expand LaGuardia onto nearby Rikers Island. The plan is more viable now than previously, with a number of public officials calling for the jail complex at Rikers Island to be closed.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito first proposed closing the Rikers Island jail for LaGuardia expansion, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called the idea “intriguing.”

“I think there’s a consensus that has emerged among elected leaders that Rikers is an out-of-date institution, it’s anachronistic, and that it’s barbaric to have a penal colony on an island,” Venturi said.

Rikers is just 200 feet from LaGuardia. Under the plan, it will be connected with landfill to become part of the airport.

The 7,000-foot east-west runway can be extended to 10,250 feet, and another 11,000 foot runway can be added as well under the plan.

The Rikers idea is picking up steam.

“Creative ideas like extending the runways to Rikers have to be seriously considered if we’re really going to have safe, smart, 21st-century airports in the world’s greatest city,” said Joe Sitt, chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance – a coalition of business, labor and real estate leaders.

The state’s multi-billion-dollar plan to renovate LaGuardia does not include expansion. Venturi said it should.

“In the whole process of doing the design, one would hope that the Cuomo administration decides to take a time out and rethink the present proposal for LaGuardia,” Venturi said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, passed the buck to Cuomo for comment. His spokeswoman referred Kramer back to the governor’s earlier statement, that he is “intrigued” by the idea of using Rikers to build another runway.

It is unclear whether that means Cuomo endorse the plan.

Last March, a Delta plane skidded off the runway in the snow, narrowly missing the water.

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