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Southwest plane hit on its front landing gear, NTSB says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. safety investigators said on Thursday that a Southwest Airlines jetliner that crashed at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Monday landed on its front landing gear before its main landing gear touched down on the runway, a landing Southwest said was "not in accordance with our operating procedures."

The National Transportation Safety Board said the Boeing 737 aircraft was pitched downward at a three degree angle when it landed. The front landing gear subsequently collapsed and the plane slid for 19 seconds before coming to rest, injuring nine people, the NTSB said.

Boeing said the plane is designed to take the force of the touchdown on its main landing gear in the middle of the plane, and then touch down on its front landing gear. The company declined to comment further, citing rules on an active NTSB investigation.

The NTSB also said the plane was traveling at about 133 knots, or nautical miles per hour, when it landed, a speed that appeared to be consistent with normal landing, industry experts said. The NTSB said it will transcribe relevant portions of the cockpit voice record on Friday.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gary Hill and Steve Orlofsky)

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