Jet Blue airliner lands with broken nose gear

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

jetBlue 292 touches down safely

JetBlue Flight 292, en route to New York's JFK Airport from Burbank, California, encountered nose gear malfunctions shortly after takeoff. It safely landed three hours later at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with no apparent injuries.

The pilots first realized something was wrong when the landing gear failed to retract; television footage showed that the plane's front wheels were pointing sideways, perpendicular to the plane's body. The plane was diverted to Long Beach Airport, where it tried and failed to land, and then on to LAX, which has better emergency facilities. The aircraft circled near the airport for several hours to burn fuel; the Airbus A320 aircraft is not designed to dump fuel.

Commentators predicted that the nose gear would either snap off, immediately twist to parallel upon touch down, or withstand the friction from the landing while remaining at a 90 degree angle.

At approximately 6:19PM local time, almost three hours after takeoff, the aircraft successfully managed to touch down. The pilot landed the plane first on its two rear wheels, keeping its nose in the air as long as possible until it slowed enough that the nose could be safely lowered. The front tires remained at a 90 degree angle and were incinerated through the friction. A cloud of white smoke and sparks burst out from behind the nose gear as the plane traveled down the runway. As the airplane finally stopped, the pilot had managed to keep the plane no more than 6 inches from the runway's centerline. Officials were prepared with a brigade of fire engines as well as fire retardant foam in case the front wheel ignited. The plane was evacuated a few minutes later.

Reports indicate that the pilots acted in a "calm and professional manner."

JetBlue flight 292 was in a unique situation as each seat in the plane was equipped with live TV through DirecTV. Several of the stations carried on the LiveTV system had cameras trained on the plane and were monitoring the situation. It has been established that the televisions were operating as the plane circled the airfield, though there are conflicting reports on whether or not the televisions were in operation during the landing. For a time, passengers on board were able to watch their own airplane circle the airfield in a precarious situation.

139 passengers and 6 crew were on board Flight 292.