Passengers on a United Shuttle Air Express jet had a bit of a nerve-wracking experience last night, as the plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Newark Airport after the front landing gear failed to deploy. The pilot was able to bring the plane down safely, eventually, with its nose resting on the pavement.
“On approach, the flight crew was not able to confirm that the nose gear had deployed correctly,” said a statement by Indianapolis-based Shuttle America, which operates the shuttle on behalf of United Express. “After receiving confirmation from Newark Air Traffic Control that the nose gear was not down, the crew declared an emergency.”
The New Jersey Star-Ledger says some passengers were pretty freaked out by the ordeal.
“We just thought it was the end,” said one man aboard the flight, which originated in Atlatana. “I just sent a text to my sons letting them know that I loved them, and I hoped everything worked out.”
Others weren’t too worried, and said the staff kept everyone calm. As one woman put it, “I’ve had rougher landings than that.”
The plane circled New York before trying to land, and did a flyby over Newark Airport. Once it touched down with its nose up, the nose eventually hit the runway, reportedly filling the plane with smoke and a smell of burning rubber. Foam was applied to the plane and then passengers deplaned via emergency slides.
All 71 people were fine, as the rear landing gear was lowered. That’s the gear that’s most important in landing anyway, says one airline consultant quoted by the paper.
“You typically land on those two back wheels,” he said. “Of all of the emergencies that we would deal with, that’s probably the choice that would be the easiest to deal with.”
The airport shut down for a few hours due to the emergency situation, but reopened a few hours later for business as usual.