One of the local stations played an interview with Al Haynes (Captain of a United DC-10 that lost all hydraulics when the #2 turbofan disintegrated in 1989, but still managed to bring it in using the throttles [though it cartwheeled on landing, 184 of 296 survived]). I don’t recall the exact word he used to describe the job done by flight crew, but it was along the lines of “amazing.”
I’m not and will never be a pilot (bad eyesight), but I imagine there isn’t much higher praise in the airline business than that.
Yes, I’ve heard from several acquaintenances who are pilots that Rule #1 is “Fly the [expletive deleted] plane.” I also know that they train for this scenario among others. But there’s a world of difference between simulation and the real world, and this crew responded beautifully.
Sitting here vegging past my bedtime, with the rerun of Larry King on CNN, he had a United pilot on the phone who was talking about how they regularly do train for exactly this type of scenario – burn off the fuel to land as slowly as possible, then keep the nose off the runway as long as possible. Plus there’s even been a recent advisory issued on this nose gear for exactly this problem.
So while the pilot may be the hero, if the maintenance folks didn’t get the repair done timely, they may end up being the goats.
MSNBC was reporting that the previous AirBus model’s problem was caused by a problem with an O-ring leaking hydraulic fluid (?) which allowed the wheel to rotate out of place.
As for training for that maneuver - yes, they are trained about situations like this, but Haynes (that pilot for United, mentioned above) said basically that you don’t know for certain how it’s going to go until you actually do it, and that putting down that front wheel at the wrong time could potentially cause a lot of injuries. He and the commentators were nearly expecting the gear to shear off, though they did note the previous AirBus problem with this did not have any injuries in the landing.
It’s been a factor in several car fires in recent years, too - nice, lightweight stuff but boy, howdy! does it ever burn!
The fire you saw was mostly burning rubber and sparks caused by friction between the metal in the gear and the pavement, maybe some burning grease/oil. Once the plane stopped the fire vanished almost immediately.
Isn’t it just great to see such GOOD news for a change! Kudos to the crew.
The basic premise behind landing a plane is to keep it flying (nose up) for as long as possible. I remember my flight instructors always saying “Keep it flying!” as we were landing. So, keeping the front gear off the ground for as long as possible isn’t a difficult job. But, when your gear is out of whack, anything can happen.
This was just one of the most beautiful landings I have ever seen! I was glued to the edge of my seat the entire time.
My only complaint was that my husband chose to watch the coverage on MSNBC and the woman doing the interviews and reporting there was a total idiot. She was asking stupid questions - all I could say was “I miss Peter Jennings.”
Apart from the petty bitching, I was properly impressed. I was also wondering what damage the runway sustained and how long, if at all, it’ll be out of commission. The other thing that occurred to me - there they were, circling around, burning off fuel - knowing how expensive fuel is. I expect some accountant at Jet Blue was weeping… Yeah, my mind goes strange places sometimes.
They used a “spare” runway that’s probably held in reserve for just this sort of situation - they knew the landing was going to be somewhere on the scale of pavement gouged up to big flaming wreck, so they kept it off the primary runways.
AFAIK, the runway does need some repaving, but nothing terrible.
As for the accountants, three hours’ fuel and a rubbed-off front gear is a heck of a lot less than a 5-year-old wadded up airplane and 146 casualties. I’d like to think they’re ecstatic.
It was a great landing by the pilot. I had the interesting experience of watching the coverage on satellite t.v. mid-flight aboard another plane. Two things crossed my mind: same as Dooku, I wondered whether those on the JetBlue plane were watching; and I also wondered how nervous passengers aboard any plane would be feeling watching this on satellite t.v.