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NTSB Probes Jet Nose Gear Collapse

August 29, 2002

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PHOENIX (AP) _ Federal investigators were trying to determine why the nose gear of an America West jetliner collapsed shortly after landing at Sky Harbor International Airport.

The plane skidded into a dirt infield adjacent to its landing strip Wednesday night. Five passengers sustained minor injuries, and four were treated and released from a hospital.

The injuries occurred as the passengers were evacuating the plane, an Airbus 320, said Bruce Nelson, an FAA operations officer in Los Angeles. There were no injuries during the landing, he said.

About 150 passengers and five crew members were on board the plane, which was traveling from Houston to Phoenix.

``The landing was fine. It was when we went off the runway and into the dirt that there was a problem,″ said passenger Robert Babb of Bakersfield, Calif., who was not injured. ``You can’t buy a ticket like that at Disneyland.″

Late Wednesday, the plane could still be seen just off the airport’s north runway, its nose pointed toward the ground, its tail tipped in the air.

The nose gear was inspected during routine maintenance on Sept. 27 and had no problems, America West spokesman Jim Sabourin said Thursday. The components of the plane, which was built in 1980, are also checked visually every day and no problems were found, he said.

A crane lifted the plane onto a flatbed truck early Thursday morning. Air traffic was back to normal Thursday, officials said.

Twenty-one passengers were sent on later flights Wednesday night, Sabourin said. The rest of the passengers stayed in area hotels and were to be placed on flights early Thursday, he said.

___

On the Net:

America West: http://www.americawest.com

Sky Harbor: http://phoenix.gov/AVIATION/

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