The front wheel of a Boeing 757 operated by Delta Air Lines fell off and rolled as the plane took off from Atlanta International Airport over the weekend, the airline and regulators said.
An FAA notice filed Monday said the plane was in line at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport waiting to take off when “the nose wheel separated and rolled down the hill.”
No one was injured in Saturday's incident and the investigation is ongoing. The Boeing 757 has been out of production since 2004 and is therefore an older model in contrast to the newer ones
in contrast to the recent explosion of a fuselage panel of an eight-week-old Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet.
“Tower, it looks like we have a problem,” the Delta pilot said after being warned by the crew of another plane that one of the two front nose wheels had rolled off, according to a recording on liveatc.net.
“Tower, there’s a 75(7) on the runway that just lost a front tire,” the pilot of the unidentified second plane told air traffic controllers.
The plane, which was heading to Bogotá, Colombia, was towed. Passengers were transferred to a replacement aircraft and the affected jet returned to service the following day.
Boeing is under increased scrutiny following the Jan. 5 crash of an Alaska Airlines flight. No one was seriously injured, but the FAA grounded 171 MAX 9s after the incident.
A Boeing spokesperson referred to Delta's questions, pointing out that 757 production ended in 2004 and the last plane was delivered in 2005.
The age of the 757-200 aircraft could not immediately be confirmed. Delta said in September that the average age of its 757-200 aircraft is 26.1 years and that of its 757-300 aircraft is 20.6 years.
Civil aircraft typically have a useful life of 20 to 25 years, but are built so that they can fly longer, up to certain limits.
Safety experts say there is no simple link between age and safety, although older planes may need to be monitored for structural stresses depending on how hard they have been flown. (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, Tim Hepher in Paris, Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago; Editing by Miral Fahmy and Nick Zieminski)