A JetBlue airliner with its front landing gear stuck sideways landed safely Wednesday, balancing on its back wheels as it slowed on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.
As the front wheels touched the runway, flames shot along the tarmac and the tires tore off, leaving the metal gear scraping the runway for the final few yards.
The pilots of Flight 292 had discovered the problem as they tried to retract the plane's landing gear shortly after leaving Burbank's Bob Hope Airport bound for New York, said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin.
With 139 passengers on board, the plane circled the Los Angeles area for three hours as the pilots burned off fuel and officials tried to determine how to bring the plane in safely.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker said the Airbus A320 burned off fuel to lighten the plane for landing.
The plane first circled the Long Beach Airport, about 30 miles south of Burbank, then was cleared to land at Los Angeles, said LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles.
Baldwin said the pilots had reported a landing gear indication light on shortly after takeoff at 3:17 p.m. The plane landed about 6:20 p.m.
JetBlue is based in Forest Hills, N.Y.resentative for the LAX control tower, said pilots have landed and keep the nose gear up until the plane is at a very slow speed before easing it down, minimizing danger to passenger and damage to plane.