Indonesian Merpati 737 loses wheel while taking off

Singapore
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A wheel on the landing-gear of a Merpati Nusantara Boeing 737-400 fell off yesterday as it was taking off from an airport in eastern Indonesia.

"During the process of take-off, air traffic control [in Biak] informed the pilot-in-command that one of the wheels had fallen off," the Indonesian carrier's corporate secretary says from Jakarta. The corporate secretary gives his name only as Sukandi.

He says the pilot-in-command decided "to continue with the take-off" because if he had aborted it would have been more trouble.

Once the aircraft was in the air, the pilot did a go-around and burned fuel before landing safely back in Biak, says Sukandi, adding that there was no other damage to the 737 which was carrying 103 passengers and eight crew.

The left-hand side landing gear had lost one wheel but it still had one other wheel left, he says.

This aircraft, local registration PK-MBO, is now grounded in Biak and is subject to an investigation by the civil aviation authorities, adds Sukandi. According to Flight's ACAS database Jetscape is the aircraft's owner.

This is one of two -400s in the fleet and Merpati also has four 737-300s, five 737-200s and several types of turboprop aircraft, he says.

The airline is currently seeking to get eight 60-70 seat turboprop aircraft to meet passenger demand, says Sukandi.

It was suppose to add more Xian Aircraft MA60s but is involved in a dispute with the Chinese manufacturer so it is looking at alternatives.