A JetBlue airliner with faulty landing gear touched down safely Wednesday 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 by balancing on the back wheels, 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 immediately reported among the 140 passengers and six crew members, fire officials said.
The plane landed at an auxiliary runway set apart from the main terminals. Fire trucks and emergency crews had massed nearby to help.
"It was a very, very smooth landing. The pilot did an outstanding job," said fire 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 Bob Hope Airport in Burbank at 3:17 p.m. for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin.
The Airbus A320 first circled the Long Beach Airport, about 30 miles south of Burbank, then was cleared to land at Los Angeles International Airport. 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. Others talked on their cell phones and waved to cameras. One firefighter carrying a boy across the tarmac put his helmet on the child's head.
JetBlue, based in Forest Hills, N.Y., is a five-year-old low-fare airline with 286 flights a day and destinations in 13 states and the Caribbean. It operates a fleet of 81 A320s.
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Midwest Airlines flight with 86 passengers, four crew touched down safely in Boston late Tuesday after circling the airport for about two hours.