Landing Gear Issue Leads to Plane's Belly Landing at Newark

An airline official says a US Airways flight with 34 people aboard was forced to make a belly landing at Newark International Airport after experiencing landing gear trouble. No injuries were reported.

US Airways spokesman Davien Anderson says a turboprop plane that left Philadelphia shortly before 11 p.m. Friday landed safely at Newark with its landing gear retracted at about 1 a.m. Saturday.

Anderson said the flight, being operated by Piedmont Airlines, was carrying 31 passengers and three crew members. He says the plane circled Newark in a holding pattern while working to get the gear down.

After several failed attempts to get the gear down, the plane landed on its belly on one of the airport's two long parallel runways. The runway was shut down for a time, but had reopened by 9:30 a.m. 

Port Authority police evacuated the plane and transported the passengers to safety. Sources familiar with the investigation said the pilot, Edward Powers, chose to land the plane on its belly because he feared it would veer off the runway if he tried to use the malfunctioning landing gear.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Arlene Salec said the aircraft sustained "minimal damage" during the belly landing. The FAA is investigating.

Anderson said US Airways is cooperating with investigators.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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