Local News

Crews Find One Tire Shredded on Plane After Emergency Landing

Posted July 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The pilot of a TWA DC-9 airliner landed safely at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after notifying ground control the crew believed one tire had exploded.

TWA Flight 550 left St. Louis Monday night bound for Raleigh-Durham carrying 75 people, said Rick Martinez of the Airport Authority.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said officials would begin investigating the incident today.

The pilot - whom a TWA representative declined to identify - told air traffic control personnel at 9:40 p.m. EDT that he thought one of the tires on the right rear landing gear of the McDonnell Douglas jet had exploded.

Emergency crews were deployed around the airport, Martinez said, and the plane was ordered to an alternate flight path.

Crews set up lights so they could try to observe the condition of the gear during several flybys.

``Basically, everyone tries to look at the airplane to see if the gear is intact and to see if there is any evidence of a blown tire,'' Martinez said.

After landing, crews found a tire was shredded on the right side landing gear. Each gear assembly contains six tires - two forward plus two pairs in the rear points of the triangle shape - and is designed to withstand the failure of a blown tire, Martinez said.

In this case, the shredded tire was not observed during the nighttime flybys, which are conducted at plane speeds up to 200 mph, Martinez said.

Passenger Minnie Love says the plane's crew handled the situation very professionally.

The pilot landed the plane at 11:05 p.m., Martinez said, and the gear was immediately ``pinned,'' or braced with a metal device to prevent it from collapsing on the tarmac.

TWA mechanics will examine the gear and report to the Federal Aviation Administration, Martinez said.

No injuries were reported and the incident did not interfere with other scheduled flights in and out of the airport, Martinez said.

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