MD80 flight aborted by brake problem

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2000

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Firefighters put out a small fire on the wheel of an Alaska Airlines MD80 jet after the pilot reported brake problems as he taxied for takeoff Sunday evening.

The 134 passengers and crew on the Las Vegas-to-Seattle flight deplaned on the aircraft stairs and were taken back to the terminal by bus, according to Scott Russell, a spokesman for McCarran International Airport.

No injuries were reported.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said the pilot of Flight 639 noticed one brake had a high temprature reading and, as a normal precaution, he asked the tower to check with binoculars to see if there was any smoke coming from the landing gear.

The tower told the pilot smoke was coming from the left landing gear. The plane taxied to a holding area about 200 feet from the airport fire department, and units reponded.

As firefighters were checking out the aircraft, spilled brake fluid flamed up on a tire hub and was quickly extinguished, Evans said.

''No emergency was declared and no emergency evacuation required,'' Evans said.

The passengers were to be flown to Seattle on a later flight, Russell said.

It was the latest in a series of incidents involving Alaska Airlines, including a Jan. 31 crash of Flight 261 off the coast of Southern California that killed 88 people.

The Seattle Times reported Saturday that what began months ago as an inquiry into maintenance practices at an Alaska Airlines facility has become a criminal investigation into the crash of Flight 261.

Citing unidentified sources, the newspaper said the FBI and Department of Transportation investigators have been questioning Alaska Airlines employees as part of an inquiry that has been under way for several weeks.

No criminal wrongdoing has been established in connection with the Jan. 31 crash, the Times said.

Last Thursday a passenger, 39-year-old Peter Bradley of Blue Springs, Mo., caused a disturbance on an Alaska Airlines flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco, barging into the cockpit and assaulting the pilot before being subdued by passengers and crew members.

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