Passengers arrive in Fort Lauderdale after plane blows tire at Philadelphia airport

Pilot forced to abort takeoff for flight

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Passengers arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport early Friday morning after a plane's nose gear collapsed during an attempted takeoff at Philadelphia International Airport a day earlier, leaving the plane crippled on the runway and prompting the crew to deploy emergency slides for the passengers to get off.

US Airways Flight 1702 was headed to Fort Lauderdale when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff shortly after 6 p.m. after a tire on the plane's front landing gear blew out, airline officials said.


The Airbus A320 jet was carrying 149 passengers and five crew members, airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. All the passengers were rescheduled on later flights, she said.

Two passengers requested medical attention after the aborted takeoff, but no serious injuries were reported, she said.

"As soon as we went up, it just all of a sudden took a dip and the nose went down and we bounced like the front tire exploded, and then the nose hit," passenger Frank Gabbamonte, vacationing from New York, told Local 10.

Gabbamonte said there was smoke and fire, and everybody started to scream.

"It was quite a shock because the impact was very strong, but we really didn't know what was happening," passenger Debbie Grant said.

"I think people's lives were flashing before their eyes," passenger Devon Lassiter said. "It was just a lot."

Emergency responders sprayed protective foam around parts of the plane because hydraulic fluid was leaking from it, but no jet fuel leaked, police said. Police praised the actions of the airline crew for getting the passengers off the plane safely.

"I just was hoping, you know, that I could get all the women and the children out first, and that was my main concern before I went down the chute," Gabbamonte said.

Grant said there was "a lot of camaraderie" among passengers on the flight.

"I've never seen so much compassion from a crowd of people -- a crowd of strangers," Lassiter said.

Lassiter said she was thankful that everybody was alive.

"We helped each other and, you know, I think we avoided what could have been a lot of injuries," added passenger Tom Francis, who was also vacationing from New York.

Teaney said passengers had to wait more than 30 minutes in the cold for buses to pick them up and take them back to the terminal. Police said they erected barriers to try to shield the passengers from the wind and put some women and children in their vehicles to keep them warm.

The airport's four runways were shut down for about 35 minutes, police said. Three were reopened within a few hours of the accident, with only the runway where the accident occurred remaining closed, Lupica said.

US Airways merged with American Airlines last year to form American Airlines Group Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company plans to phase out the US Airways name.

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