KOCHI - Passengers aboard an All Nippon Airways propjet that made an emergency landing at Kochi airport Tuesday after its nose gear failed to extend recounted their two-hour ordeal before their safe touchdown.
No one was injured among the 56 passengers and four crew members when the twin-engined Bombardier DHC-8 turboprop made a safe landing on its main gear and then carefully lowered the nose to the runway at 10:54 a.m.
“The passengers were told about the nose gear malfunction some 20 minutes after takeoff,” said Shuji Kurebe, 30, a travel agency worker in Osaka Prefecture. “But all the passengers appeared calm and no one panicked.”
Another male passenger said no one initially appeared to take the matter seriously. But he said a flight attendant later began to give away candies to help ease the stress of passengers.
ANA Flight 1603, which had left Osaka’s Itami airport and was heading to Kochi, had to circle above Kochi airport for nearly two hours while it tried to deploy the nose gear and to reduce fuel to minimize the chance of a fire if the landing turned rough.
Kurebe said passengers knew the pilot was trying to deploy the failed gear. “Sounds of the gear being moved were repeatedly heard, and we knew the pilot tried many times.”
Kurebe said he felt a chill when he saw the emergency vehicles lining the runway while the plane was circling. “Then I thought something serious was going on.”
A few minutes after the passengers were instructed to prepare for an emergency landing by lowering their heads, Kure said he felt the nose of the plane scraping along the runway. Heat from the friction was also felt, he added. The plane landed at 10:54 a.m.
“I would never want my customers to experience something like this,” the travel agent said.
But another passenger said he was confident the plane would land safety. “I was relieved because no big sound or huge shock was felt. The pilot must be very skilled.”
Aviation expert Akira Maene said Capt. Hitoshi Imazato, 36, did a very good job.
“The pilot followed the proper procedures,” Maene said, adding it was important to reduce speed as much as possible, plant the main gear first and then ease the nose to the runway.
Imazato has flown some 8,000 hours since 1996, including some 3,000 hours on DHC-8s.
Maene noted the same type of aircraft has had this type of trouble often, indicating there may be a structural or design flaw.
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