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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

FedEx cargo jet crash-lands at Tennessee airport after landing gear malfunction

 (Hamilton County EMS)
By Ian Duncan Washington Post

A FedEx cargo jet was forced to make an unusual emergency landing with its gear up late Wednesday, ultimately sliding off the runway at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee.

The Boeing 757 had three people onboard, who are accounted for, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department. FedEx said its crew members are safe and referred other questions to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident.

The plane took off from Chattanooga about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to data from tracking service Flightradar24. The pilots soon informed air traffic controllers they were experiencing a “minor issue” and would need time in the air to determine their next move. That issue did not appear to be connected to the problem with the landing gear.

After the pilots decided to scrap their planned journey to Memphis, they reported receiving an indication about a landing gear problem and declared an emergency.

“We’ve got three souls on board, approximately an hour-and-a-half of fuel remaining,” one of the FedEx pilots said, according to transmissions archived by LiveATC.net.

The pilot then asked for permission to fly low over the airport so people on the ground could try to see whether the plane’s landing gear was down.

“We’ve got everybody looking for your gear,” an air traffic controller said, before adding: “There appeared to be no landing gear observed.”

The plane made another loop before eventually making it to the ground.

Fire officials said there was smoke from the engines but no fire. The plane slid off the end of the runway and came to rest before reaching a road that runs along the edge of the airport.

“Great work by the pilot and airport personnel, as well as all responding agencies for their coordinated efforts,” the Chattanooga Fire Department said in a social media post.

Experts said pilots normally can extend the landing gear manually on big jets, if necessary, making situations like Wednesday’s rare.

Earlier this year, FedEx pilots narrowly avoided a collision with a Southwest Airlines jet on a runway at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. That incident was among a spate of close calls that prompted new efforts to improve airline safety with the goal of eliminating near misses.