PHILADELPHIA – The nose gear on a Florida-bound US Airways plane collapsed during takeoff at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday evening, prompting an emergency evacuation from the runway.
Airline officials said Flight 1702 was heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff shortly after 6 p.m. when a tire on the plane’s front landing gear blew out.
The Airbus A320 jet was carrying 149 passengers and five crew members, airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. Some of those passengers boarded a new flight that landed in Florida early Friday.
US Airways is part of Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group following the merger of the two airlines in December.
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One passenger requested medical attention after the crash but no serious injuries were reported, she said.
A passenger on the plane, Dennis Fee, told WPVI-TV that it was “very windy and when the plane took off, the nose of the plane went back down, hitting the runway.”
“We were airborne, then struck back down by the nose,” he said.
“The flight kind of shot up and then bounced down,” 33-year-old passenger Christopher Teaney told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Bounced real hard. Shot up again, and then nose-dived.
“I was laughing the whole time. I didn’t know what else to do.”
Teaney said that passengers had to wait more than a half-hour in the cold for buses to come get them to transport them back to the terminal.
Three of the airport’s four runways were reopened within a few hours after the crash, with only the runway where the accident occurred remaining closed, Lupica said.
The crippled plane was removed from the runway in Philadelphia. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.