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Pilot aborts LAX takeoff, blows 4 tires

March 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The pilot of a Qantas Airways jumbo jet aborted takeoff after a warning light came on in the cockpit, braking so sharply that four tires blew out.It was a real scare for the passengers on board the plane. The pilot had no choice but to abort the takeoff.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch John Gregory's live report from LAX, including interviews with passengers.

The emergency happened just as the jumbo jet was lifting off the round. A warning light went off in the cockpit off the 747 and passengers were told to brace themselves.

"We started to take off and we were going pretty fast and the brakes slammed on, the crews shouted 'Brace, brace, brace,' everybody braced," said Jaqui Mullen, a passenger on board the plane. "It was fairly exciting to say the least."

"The plane started to do that lift and they just slammed on the brakes, so I don't know if the check engine light came on or whatever but it just came to a halt," said Dale Morella, a passenger.

Several tires on the plane blew out due to the abrupt stop. Emergency vehicles surrounded the plane as the 232 passengers on board were evacuated. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries in the incident.

Usually you hear about a problem like this on landing, but pilots say blowing tires can happen on takeoff and it's not nearly as dangerous as it sounds.

"And if you pull the power, decelerate, it goes into an automatic braking mode," said Michael Perry, an American Airlines pilot. "And the computers monitor the speed of the tires and the braking to make sure that none of the tires lock up. And apparently maybe one of the tires might have locked up on the aircraft and the lead plugs that hold the air pressure in melted, and the tires deflated and that's that."

Despite the emergency, many passengers are confident about getting back on a plane.

"It wasn't really scary, things didn't fly all over," said Kara Jacobson, a passenger. "So, it just, you know, it wasn't as dramatic as people thought it would be."

Many passengers credit the calm and cool actions of the Qantas crew for their confidence, actions that brought the big jumbo to a stop before something far worse could have happened.

The incident did not affect other LAX operations. Airport authorities were able to get the 747 off the runway and flights were able to land and takeoff almost on schedule.

 

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