United Airlines flight makes emergency landing at Newark Airport
Monday, January 11, 2010
United Airlines Flight 634 made an emergency landing yesterday morning when only two of the three landing wheels on the Airbus A319 deployed as the plane was making its final approach into Newark, New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport. After multiple attempts to fix the problem failed, the pilot decided that an emergency landing was the only remaining choice.
Only the plane's nose gear and left landing gear had descended. The right landing gear would not release. The airliner made a go-around as the crew attempted to fix the problem. Passenger Jim Falk knew something was wrong saying, "Normally a big plane like that doesn't do a bypass, so we knew something was wrong."
However, the pilot decided that nothing could be done to bring the gear down, and an emergency landing was declared. "We are going to have an unusual landing," the pilot calmly announced to the 53 passengers seated on the plane, according to passenger Moritz Loew. Another passenger, Paul Lasiuk said he was more shocked than scared, telling himself, "You have no choice. You're going to go through this."
"Brace! Brace! Brace!", the pilot announced over the plane's public address system, calling for passengers to enter the brace position as the plane made a touchdown on the runway at Newark. The plane touched down on the nose wheel and left rear wheel before lurching to the right causing sparks to fly as the right engine skidded along the runway. Eventually, the plane came to stop at 9:27 A.M. EDT.
Afterward, passengers and crew evacuated the plane by sliding down the evacuation slides and moving quickly away from the plane. They were then taken by bus to the airline's lounge where they told their stories to investigators and waited for their luggage. Three passengers reported minor injuries but refused treatment.
The emergency landing caused the airport to shut down for 20 minutes, but service quickly resumed on two of the airports three runways. The plane remained on the runway throughout the afternoon as investigators determined the cause of the landing gear failure.
This is in contrast to last week, when the airport was shutdown for six hours after a young man named Haisong Jiang breached security by passing through an exit to kiss his girlfriend goodbye.
According to passengers, the crew remained calm during the ordeal. Jim Falk said, "They did a great job. There was no yelling, screaming, panicking or anything." Falk said he wanted to buy a bottle of champagne for the currently unnamed pilot. Falk added, "The pilot did a beautiful job. He didn’t put it in the water like the other pilot did, but he should be commended."
|What's a great landing? One that you walk away from.|
—Moritz Loew, passenger on United Airlines Flight 634
Martin Trebino, a spokesperson for United Airlines said they would not release the pilot's name on Sunday, but did not indicate when his name would be made available either.
Paul Lasiuk said, "I've had a lot of worse landings at Newark before. It was unbelievably smooth."
Moritz Loew joked with himself afterward saying, "What's a great landing? One that you walk away from."
The flight, which left Chicago's O'Hare International Airport early Sunday morning around 6 A.M. reported no other problems during the flight up until the incident. According to United Airlines spokesperson Robin Urbanski, it remains unclear why the landing gear failed to deploy. Urbanski added that passengers' tickets would be refunded and that they would receive vouchers and credit towards any future flight.
- Bill Hutchinson. "Emergency landing by United Airlines Flight 634 shuts down Newark Liberty International Airport" — , January 10, 2010
- A.G. Sulzberger and Nate Schweber. "Jet Makes Emergency Landing at Newark Airport" — , January 10, 2010
- Associated Press. "Malfunction forces emergency landing by United Airlines plane at Newark airport" — , January 10, 2010
- Brian Whitley, Andrew Tangel and Karen Rouse. "Flight ends safely after landing gear failure" — , January 11, 2010