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NWA DC-9 Makes Emergency Landing At STL

Jet With 62 Passengers Onboard Experienced Engine, Landing Gear Problems

From the moment the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association chose to strike against Northwest Airlines, technicians walking the picket line have quietly -- but openly -- questioned whether the replacement mechanics brought in to take their place would be able to handle the responsibility of keeping the oldest fleet among major US carriers operating.

Some of those voices may be louder after a Northwest airliner flying from Memphis, TN to Minneapolis, MN was forced to divert to St. Louis's Lambert International Airport on Saturday. The DC-9 (file photo of type, above) experienced loss of power in one of its two engines, according to a statement by Lambert Operations Specialist Eric Patton to the Associated Press.

The problems didn't stop there, however. The jet also experienced difficulties with extending its nose gear, forcing the crew to crank the gear down manually.

While the procedure worked as exactly as it was supposed to and the plane landed safely, the 62 passengers onboard were nevertheless told to assume crash positions during landing -- just in case. Many of those passengers questioned if the incidents might have been related to the strike, according to the AP.

However, a spokesman for the striking mechanics union was quick to diffuse the innuendo, saying it would be nearly impossible to determine if the problems were related to the Northwest's use of replacement mechanics.

"It would be very easy for me to tell you, 'Oh yeah, it was a mistake by one of these replacement workers,' said Steve MacFarlane, assistant national director of AMFA. "But the fact is, it might have been, and then again it might not."

FMI: www.nwa.com

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