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Not satisfied with falling apart mid-flight, Boeing plane's nose wheel 'popped off' before takeoff

Business

The nose wheel of a Boeing 757 passenger jet operated by Delta Air Lines has popped off and rolled away as the plane was lining up for take-off from Atlanta’s international airport, according to the airline and regulators.

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An FAA notice filed on Monday said the aircraft was lining up and waiting for take-off at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when the “nose wheel came off and rolled down the hill”.

Nobody was hurt in Saturday’s incident, which is under investigation.

The Boeing 757 stopped production in 2004, making it an older model, unlike the recent mid-air blowout of a fuselage panel in an eight-week-old Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet.

“Tower, it sounds like we have a problem,” the Delta pilot said, after being warned by the crew of another aircraft that one of two wheels on the front nose-gear had rolled away, according to a recording on liveatc.net.

“Tower there’s a 75(7) on the runway just lost a nose tyre,” the pilot of the unidentified second aircraft told controllers.

The plane, which was headed to Bogota, Colombia, was towed away.

Passengers were transferred to a replacement aircraft and the affected jet was put back in service the next day.

Boeing has faced increased scrutiny following the January 5 blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Nobody was seriously injured but the FAA grounded 171 MAX 9s after the incident.

A Boeing representative referred questions to Delta and noted that 757 production ended in 2004, with the last plane delivered in 2005.

The age of the 757-200 plane could not immediately be confirmed.

Delta said in September that the average age of its 757-200 planes was 26.1 years and that of its 757-300 planes was 20.6 years.

Civil planes typically have an economic life of 20 to 25 years but are built to be flown longer up to certain limits.

Safety experts say there is no simple correlation between age and safety although older planes need to be monitored for structural stresses depending on how heavily they have flown.

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