A US Airways plane bound for Ft. Lauderdale, FL, skidded off the runway at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday as it suffered from a blown out tire. After an aborted takeoff due to the blown out tire, the plane’s nose gear gave out causing the plane to slide to a stop.
US Airways Flight 1702, scheduled to depart at 5:50 p.m. attempted to take off about 30 minutes late from Philadelphia International Airport. The Airbus 320 was airborne for seconds before its front tire blew out. The quick-acting pilot made an emergency landing, and when doing so the nose gear collapsed in a shower of sparks, sending the plane veering off the tarmac, nose down.
Flight 1702 was carrying 149 passengers including five crew members on board. The crew members deployed the evacuation slides on the Airbus, enabling passengers to escape the downturned aircraft. Will Jager, a passenger on the flight, told CBS news that there was “quite a bit of panic. Soon after we landed, smoke was coming out of the engine. The pilot ordered everyone to evacuate,” he said.
The plane’s nose touched the ground, which caused the aft of the aircraft to be suspended in the air much higher than normal. US Airways crews deployed all slides and the first few passengers out of the back of the aircraft were instructed to pull the inflatable slides (also used as water rafts) down so the remaining passengers could escape unharmed.
Chief Gary Loesch of the Philadelphia Fire Department, told reporters that firefighters had to lay a protective blanket made of foam to soak up the leaking hydraulic fluid, which was coming from the front landing gear after the US Airways jet skidded off the runway. Emergency vehicles surrounded the passengers to keep them protected as they were kept at a safe distance.
Two passengers were hospitalized with minor injuries, and fire crews were able to get the situation under control in about 40 minutes. Another passenger on the US Airways flight, Christopher Teaney, reported that the worst part of the whole flight was waiting out in the cold for transportation to take everyone back to the terminal. “I was laughing the whole time,” noted Teaney. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
Jager added that everyone on the plane seemed to be wearing their seat belts during the plane’s jolt back down to the ground. A ground stop of about three hours was in place at Philadelphia airport due to the incident.
This is not US Airways’ first incident on the Airbus 320. In 2009, flight 1549 took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport and was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after multiple engine failure due to a bird strike. All 155 occupants on board survived that flight.
For flight 1702, US Airways is still searching for the reason the landing gear gave out, but they do not assume pilot error was involved. The airline reported that it is accommodating all of the passengers and crew that were aboard that flight, and that they were moved to another flight en route to Ft. Lauderdale later Thursday evening.
By Nathan Rohenkohl