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Crews Find One Tire Shredded on Plane After Emergency Landing

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MORRISVILLE — The pilot of a TWA DC-9 airliner landedsafely atRaleigh-Durham International Airport after notifying ground controlthe crew believed one tire had exploded.

TWA Flight 550 left St. Louis Monday night bound forRaleigh-Durham carrying 75 people, said Rick Martinez of theAirport Authority.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said officialswouldbegin 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 thoughtone of the tires on the right rear landing gear of the McDonnellDouglas jet had exploded.

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

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

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

After landing, crews found a tire was shredded on the rightsidelanding gear. Each gear assembly contains six tires - two forwardplus two pairs in the rear points of the triangle shape - and isdesigned to withstand the failure of a blown tire, Martinez said.

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

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

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

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

No injuries were reported and the incident did not interferewith other scheduled flights in and out of the airport, Martinezsaid.

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