Jet from Chicago makes emergency landing

January 10, 2010 8:57:42 PM PST
A plane that took off from Chicago made an emergency landing Sunday in New Jersey. The right landing gear apparently failed to deploy properly, forcing the pilot to use only the nose and left gear.Forty passengers and five crew members aboard the aircraft evacuated safely down the emergency chutes.

Flight 634 took off from O'Hare International Airport at approximately 6 a.m. It made an emergency landing at Newark Liberty Airport around 8:30 a.m. Central time.

"The pilot safely landed the plane with two of the three landing gear," said United spokesperson Robin Urbanksi over the telephone.

"They gave us good instructions on how to prepare. They said to put our heads between our legs and grab our ankles," passenger John Wiman said.

Passengers describe the moments before landing as intense. While the 40 passengers were told to brace for a crash landing, it was anything but hectic once the plane touched ground.

For the much of the day, United Airlines flight 634 sat on the Newark runway with investigators are trying to figure out why the plane's main landing gear failed. The Airbus 319 was about half-full when it made its emergency landing.

Passengers praised the flight crew for landing the aircraft safely. No one was injured.

"The crew was awesome, very calm and level-headed. They basically said, 'One of our landing gears is having an issue. It's going to be a very unusual landing. Prepare to brace, and we are going to evacuate this plane immediately because we're probably not going to make it back to the terminal," one passenger said. "I think, after the landing on the Hudson, you think they'll figure it out."

"They were just very in control. They gave us great instruction and direction. And, I'll be very honest with you, the way the pilot brought the plan in, I've had rougher landings here at Newark," said passenger Paul Lasiuk another. "The plane came to a stop, and everybody calmly opened the doors. I stepped out, and literally, I was out so fast, the slide hadn't deployed. I stood there for a second. The slide deployed. I slid down the slide, and there were a lot of people on the ground saying, 'Come over here.'"

United Airlines says all 40 passengers exited the plane using air slides.

Passengers say the flight crew did a very good job in the air explaining what was happening and how to handle it.

United airlines say they will reimburse all passengers for the flight and give a good will gesture with miles or vouchers for a future flight.