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Airborne Unlimited-HOLIDAY

Mon, Feb 26, 2007

AA 757 Leaves Nosewheel Behind At SeaTac

Plane Lands Uneventfully

As it turns out, a lost dog wasn't the only thing left behind by American Airlines last Wednesday. A Boeing 757 left one of its two nosegear wheels behind on a runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Neither passengers nor pilots onboard flight 1276 were aware anything was amiss when the jet took off from SeaTac just before 6:00 am local time Wednesday morning, bound for Dallas-Fort Worth. The first indication of trouble came 90 minutes later, when controllers at SeaTac noticed debris on the threshold of runway 16-Left.

The Tacoma (WA) News-Journal reports ground crews sent to retrieve the metallic object weren't able to identify what it was from. A search of other nearby runways and taxiways turned up no other suspicious items.

The airport notified all carriers that had used the runway that morning of the debris, but the crew on 1276 had no reason to suspect the piece was from their plane.

It wasn't until nearly four hours later -- after the 757 had made an uneventful landing at DFW, and was taxiing to the gate -- that the pieces started to come together. Ramp personnel noticed the 757 was missing one of its wheels, and crews promptly directed the pilots to stop short of the jetway. The 145 passengers onboard the plane were told to exit via portable stairs.

When news of the discovery reached SeaTac, the airport once again sent ground crews out to search for additional debris... and sure enough, crews found the missing wheel behind a runway sign, about halfway down the 11,900-foot length of 16-Left. SeaTac spokesman Bob Parker added ground crews also located a set of wheel bearings.

"Losing a wheel is an extremely rare occurrence," said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. "But it's not unprecedented."

The FAA and NTSB were notified of the incident, but both agencies said American could conduct its own investigation into the matter, as there was no apparent damage to the plane. 

FMI: www.aa.com


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