US Airways plane blows tire on takeoff in Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA —  A US Airways plane blew a tire during takeoff Thursday evening at Philadelphia’s airport, an airline spokesman said, with witnesses adding that they saw the plane “bounce” before screeching to a halt.

Citing initial reports, US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said the commercial airliner’s pilot decided to abort takeoff following the tire issue. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters noted the plane’s front wheels collapsed, as photos indicate.

One person aboard ended up requesting medical assistance, said Lehmacher. Similarly, a Philadelphia fire department spokesman told CNN that there was one minor injury.

Passengers on the Florida-bound flight subsequently got off the plane and onto the runway, where they were picked up.

“Our crew safely evacuated the passengers,” Lehmacher said. “We are accommodating passengers on a new aircraft, which is scheduled to depart later this evening.”

Flight 1702 was scheduled to take off at 5:50 p.m. and arrive in Fort Lauderdale about three hours later, according to US Airways’ website, though the FAA’s Peters said the incident took place around 6:25 p.m.

Departing and incoming flights at the Pennsylvania airport were temporarily halted. They resumed around 6:55 p.m., Peters said, though one runway remained closed about one hour after that.

Watching from a nearby plane, Dave Olinger said, “I saw the plane come down with its landing gear (hitting) the ground abnormally hard and it bounced back into the air. Then it continued to try to land and it went out of my view as I saw a massive cloud of dust come up from behind it.”

A witness in an airport terminal, posting to the online travel community FlyerTalk.com, reported seeing the plane “bounce twice on takeoff.”

The aircraft, an Airbus A320 with 149 passengers and five crew members on board, never caught fire, said Lechmacher.

Images from the airport afterward showed the plane pitched forward, but otherwise upright, and surrounded by flashing emergency vehicles. One showed the plane at a standstill as some people left from an emergency slide and others got out on the wing.

“So my plane just crashed,” tweeted one apparent passenger. A short time later and minutes before taking a selfie at the scene, she added, “I almost just died.”

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