US FAA officials say damage to a United Airlines Airbus A319 (N816UA) that landed at Newark on 10 January with its right main landing gear retracted is less extensive than originally thought.

While earlier reports indicated that the aircraft's right wing had been damaged in addition to the underside of the right engine nacelle after the gear-up landing, airline officials after lifting the twin-jet from the ground determined that damage was limited to the nacelle "and some scratches on the underside of the aircraft", says an FAA spokesman. All 48 passengers and five crew safely deplaned using emergency slides on Newark's runway 4L after the incident.

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Before the emergency landing, pilots attempted to fix the gear problem while airborne after being vectored by controllers to airspace southwest of the airport, says the FAA.

A fly-by of the tower afterward confirmed that the right gear was not extended.

After lifting the aircraft with jack adapters brought from United's facilities at nearby John F. Kennedy International airport, airline employees stabilised the twinjet with cranes before disconnecting the inner gear door actuator, lowering the gear and pinning the structure in place. Mechanics then towed the aircraft from the runway.

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United could not be immediately reached to confirm the damage assessment and to give an estimate on when the aircraft will be returned to service.

Meanwhile the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) on 14 January will hold a press conference to highlight "heroic" efforts of Flight 634's crew to safety land the aircraft "under extraordinary circumstances", according to an ALPA press release.

The FAA is continuing its investigation, which will include analysing the landing gear problem itself, along with finding out why one of the emergency evacuation slides did not deploy, according to the FAA spokesman.

National Transportation Safety Board officials are analysing the flight data recorder, but have not launched their own investigation, the spokesman adds.

A video posted on YouTube shows the landing from the perspective of another aircraft held on the taxiway at the airport.


Source: Air Transport Intelligence news