There’s no uglier phrase for a cockpit voice recorder to capture than “We should have gone around.” The first officer of a chartered Eastern Air Lines Boeing 737, stopped only by the engineered material arresting system on the end of LaGuardia Airport’s Runway 22, knew these were wasted words after the October 27, 2016 event.
The NTSB docket released last week included data showing the jet touched down 4,200 feet beyond the threshold of the rain-soaked 7,001-foot runway with the first officer acting as the pilot flying. Braking action was reported fair to good with a known 10-knot tailwind component present. Unable to stop in the remaining runway, the Boeing hit the EMAS and the grass beyond at approximately 40 knots before stopping. No one aboard the aircraft was injured.
The overrun incident made the evening news, partially because it shut down Runway 22 at the busy New York airport, but also because the flight was carrying then vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence.
The reference speed for the approach was calculated at 127 knots. The ground spoilers automation activation system was inoperative, which meant the captain would be expected to manually deploy them after touchdown. During the flare, the CVR captured the voice of the captain telling the first officer to “put it down, put it down.” Despite autobrakes set to “3,” for heavy braking, the first officer later admitted he might have overridden the automatic system by pressing the brake pedals although he thought he had only been touching the rudders.
The captain added to the chaos by failing to inform the FO he was fighting him for control of the airplane to try and get it stopped. The captain said he too had been applying maximum brake pressure and trying to steer the aircraft into the grass to avoid the approaching Grand Central Parkway just beyond the end of the runway.
While the captain attempted to steer for the grass, the flight data recorder indicated one of the pilots was commanding a significant turn to the left. The FO said he was trying to keep the jet on the runway centerline, although he had no idea he was fighting the captain’s commands to avoid the EMAS. The left turn command also decreased the effectiveness of one of the 737’s right spoilers, most likely interfering with the effort to halt the aircraft.
As the two pilots began to shut down the aircraft and breathe again after the incident, the CVR captured one saying, "My career just ended." The other replied, "Mine too."