GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – Two planes made by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier have had to make emergency landings in less than a week because of a landing gear problem.
A Skywest Airlines plane landed Tuesday at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee after the cockpit crew reported that only two of the three sets of landing gear would lower. All 36 passengers and three crew members aboard the Bombardier CRJ-200 deplaned safely.
Last Saturday, Delta Connection Flight 4951, operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport because of a problem with its landing gear. There were no injuries in that incident, which involved a CRJ-900 twin-engine jetliner.
In addition to the latest incidents, Federal Aviation Administration documents reveal at least three other landing gear problems with Bombardier jets since 2008.
Bombardier spokesman Marc Duchesne said Wednesday that the company has dispatched personnel to Milwaukee to support both Skywest and the NTSB investigation. He declined to further comment as the investigation is in its early stages.
He did note differences between the planes' landing gear.
"It's an entirely different landing gear," he said of the two incidents. "It's a different aircraft. The 900 is 90 passenger. The 200 is up to 50 passengers."
Duchesne on Tuesday insisted that the company's aircraft are safe, noting they have been involved in tens of millions of landings and takeoffs for dozens of airlines worldwide.
Aviation experts note that while a plane landing without its full gear can be harrowing for those on board, usually such landings result in few injuries or fatalities.
"It creates a lot of sparks and damages the airliner to some extent," said Doug Moss, a pilot who runs AeroPacific Consulting in Torrance, Calif. "The general rule is no one gets hurt and they are fairly infrequent."
Prior Bombardier landing gear landing gear emergencies since late 2008 include:
— On Dec. 15, 2008, a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 landed safely at Chicago O'Hare Airport after the crew noticed an indicator light showing trouble with the landing gear.
— On June 11, 2009, an Atlantic Southeast Airlines CRJ-200 couldn't extend its left landing gear but landed safely in Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport.
— On May 23, 2010, a Skywest Airlines CRJ-200 couldn't extend its nose landing gear but landed safely at an Ontario, Calif., airport.
The New York Daily News reported that in April a "gear disagree" message appeared on a South Africa Express CRJ-200 flight approaching Windhoek Airport in Namibia.
Airline safety consultant Keith Mackey said regional jets, because they fly more frequently, may encounter landing gear problems more often.
"A Boeing 747 typically flies longer-distance flights, but some of these (regional) planes can do 30 landings a day," he said. "Each time you cycle the landing gear, the probability goes up."
Associated Press Writer Robert Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.