US accident investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board ruled on Tuesday that a Delta captain used too much reverse thrust when braking on a snow-covered runway at LGA last March, causing the plane to skid onto a retaining wall.

“Make no mistake: This was a very close call,” NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said at the hearing in Washington. The safety board found that the pilot’s “situational stress” and high work load as he tried to stop contributed to the mistakes. “The pilots in this accident found themselves without timely and accurate information,” Hart said.

Bloomberg notes that the Board also issued recommendations and had concerns with the following:
  • The flight was not evacuated for 17 minutes due to poor communication as the crash cut the plane’s intercom system and the pilots could not talk to the flight attendants
  • It took six minutes from the time an evacuation was ordered for the first passenger to leave the jet. Flight attendants were allowing passengers to gather winter coats
  • The engines were revved to higher levels than permitted in the flight manual by the captain, while the copilot warned the captain twice the scale back power
  • Delta’s pilot manual for MD-80 aircraft advises pilots that too much thrust could “potentially” cause skidding, as opposed to the Boeing manual which says it definitely will. NTSB investigations into 14 other Delta MD80 landings found that too much reverse thrust was used in all cases
 Delta issued this statement:

“Delta leaders will use this NTSB guidance to further enhance the safety of our global operation.”

Check out the interesting ready from Bloomberg here, including details on the voice recordings.

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