December 2007 Incident Just One Example, He Claims
American Airlines Captain Sam Mayer has provided CNN with what
the Allied Pilots Association says is an example of maintenance
problems with the carrier's MD-80 series airliners.
Mayer says he heard a noise minutes after takeoff from the
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport one frigid day last
December. The plane's nose gear would not retract, and as her
circled the airport freezing temperatures and icy precipitation
started to obscure the windshield.
"As we were running the emergency procedures, there was a pop,"
Mayer said. "Everyone's ears blew out. We realized that we had lost
the pressurization of the aircraft."
Mayer managed a safe landing within a few minutes, and says the
exterior of the jetliner looked like a "popsicle." He says the
malfunctioning nose gear disabled the plane's anti-icing systems,
and the wings and tail of the plane were freezing over.
Mayer says he called American's fleet manager and was assured
the company was working on the problem. CNN says it has learned
that American's MD-80s recorded 23 landing gear problems in the
last few months, resulting in several emergency landings.
In February, the landing gear of American Flight 862 would not
retract after the plane took off from Palm Beach International
Airport in Florida. That MD-80 landed safely in Miami after
spending two hours in the air burning off fuel.
In a statement to CNN, American says the airline has "identified
three separate issues with retracting of MD-80 nose landing gear,
each of which was related to extremely cold temperatures and
But the pilots' union says the problem can't be strictly a cold
weather issue, citing the Miami incident. It blames the airline and
the FAA for not doing enough to solve the problem.
American charges its pilots are sharing "certain misinformation"
with the media as a tactic during contract negotiations. The FAA
says it's aware of cases in which landing gear on American MD-80s
has failed to retract properly, but has, "determined that there was
no safety concern."
As ANN has reported this week, American has cancelled over 2,400
flights in the past three days to conduct inspections of wiring
bundles inside the maingear wells of its MD-80s.