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LANDING SPEED CITED IN MISHAP.

Byline: Bill Hillburg Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Reaffirming its earlier preliminary findings, the National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday officially blamed excessive speed and a steep approach angle for the March 5, 2000, mishap that sent a Southwest Airlines jetliner skidding off the end of a rain-slick runway at Burbank Airport.

The board cited Capt. Howard Peterson, who piloted the Boeing 737-300, and First Officer Jeffrey D. Erwin for coming in too fast and failing to fully engage their brakes upon landing.

It also cited Burbank's federal air traffic controllers for improperly positioning the jet on its approach, thereby giving Peterson no chance to abort his landing and circle around for another attempt.

``A stabilized approach is critical for a safe landing,'' NTSB Chairman Marion Blakey said in announcing the agency's final verdict on the mishap. ``Everyone involved with the system has an important role to play. The controller must establish the aircraft correctly on approach and the flight crew must adhere to stabilized approach criteria.''

The jetliner overran the end of Burbank Airport's Runway 8, collided with a metal blast fence and a perimeter wall and came to rest in a city street, Hollywood Way, a few yards from a gas station.

Of the 142 persons on board, two passengers sustained serious injuries and 42 others, including Peterson, were slightly hurt.

The final NTSB report, which largely mirrored an agency fact-finding study released last July, also recommended that all operators of Boeing 737-300 through 500 series jets replace the brackets on hatches that contain inflatable doorway escape slides. In the Burbank incident, the slide on the forward door prematurely inflated inside the aircraft, temporarily blocking the escape route and slowing evacuation of the plane.

Both Peterson and Erwin were fired in 2001 by Southwest, which cited the Burbank incident. The Southwest Airlines Pilot Association protested and Erwin was reinstated. Peterson elected to retire with full benefits rather than fight his dismissal.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 27, 2002
Words:321
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