- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A JetBlue airliner with faulty landing gear touched down safely yesterday at Los Angeles International Airport after circling the region for three hours with its front wheels turned sideways, unable to be retracted into the plane.

The pilot landed the plane by balancing it on the back wheels, and then eased onto the front tires, which shot flames along the runway before tearing off. The metal landing gear scraped for the final yards.

Within minutes of landing, the plane’s door was opened and passengers walked down a stairway with their luggage and onto the tarmac, where buses waited.

No injuries were reported immediately among the 140 passengers and six crew members, fire officials said.

The plane landed at an auxiliary runway set apart from the main terminals. Firetrucks and emergency crews had gathered nearby to help.

“It was a very, very smooth landing. The pilot did an outstanding job,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Lou Roupoli. “There was a big hallelujah and a lot of clapping on that aircraft.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm said.

JetBlue Flight 292 left Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport at 3:17 p.m. with 139 passengers headed for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, said airline spokesman Bryan Baldwin.

The plane first circled the Long Beach Airport, about 30 miles south of Burbank, and then was cleared to land at Los Angeles.It stayed aloft to burn off fuel and lighten its weight, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker.

The plane landed at 6:19 p.m. Some passengers shook hands with emergency workers as they walked off the plane.

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