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 CRJ200 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 problem with its landing gear. There were no injuries in that incident.
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 did not immediately comment on the latest problem in Milwaukee, but said Tuesday that there are no issues with the landing gear on the CRJ series planes.
"These aircraft are in service with more than 60 airlines over the world," he said. "The aircraft has logged more than 27 million flight hours and more than 22 million takeoff and landing cycles, so these are very good and reliable aircraft."
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."