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AIRBUS LANDING PROBLEMS DATE BACK TO '90S.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

Federal records show at least seven cases dating back to the 1990s when A320s couldn't retract their nose landing gear because the wheels turned sideways.

In 1994, the Federal Aviation Administration warned that the A320's braking and steering-control unit could steer the nose gear at a 90-degree angle after landing. The FAA ordered a change in software.

In 1998, after two similar malfunctions blamed on distorted O-ring seals on the steering control module's selector valve, Airbus officials said the problem might be aging seals and recommended that they be replaced.

After a 1999 emergency landing in Ohio by an A320 that had not had the O-ring fix, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive giving American Airlines 12 months to comply with Airbus' recommendation.

At least three similar incidents have occurred since that order before the latest mishap, according to federal records.

In November 2002, a JetBlue A320 taking off from Buffalo couldn't retract its nose gear after the wheels stuck at a 90-degree angle. The plane landed with minor damage in New York.

Less than three weeks later, a similar United Airlines A319 had the same thing happen at Chicago and turned back, again resulting in minor damage.

In the Chicago incident, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that mechanics at a firm under contract to United had installed a shock absorber assembly incorrectly, allowing the nose gear to turn sideways.

The New York incident also showed indications of a problem with the shock absorber, records show.

In July 2004, a United Airlines A320 had to make an unscheduled landing because the pilots couldn't retract the nose landing gear after it failed to center. The airline blamed that malfunction on a failure of the landing- gear control interface unit.

Two months before that, a different United Airlines A320 was taxiing onto a runway when its front brakes went out and the nose wheel made an uncommanded left turn. Mechanics said the braking and steering control unit failed, records show.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Sep 23, 2005
Words:335
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