Two deflated tires found in check of Northwest jet

2nd tire-related incident since beginning of strike

August 25, 2005|By William Wan and Richard Irwin | William Wan and Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

Employees of Northwest Airlines reported finding two deflated landing gear tires during preflight inspection of a passenger jet yesterday morning at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, on the fifth day of a nationwide mechanics' strike against the company.

"I don't know if it's related," said Northwest spokesman Todd Morgano. "At this point, we're waiting for officials to determine if it was vandalism or some other cause."

The tires, directly under the cockpit, were "low in air pressure, not flat," said Cpl. Pamela Thorne of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, the agency in charge of airport security.

It was at least the second tire-maintenance incident Northwest has faced since the strike began. On the first day of the strike, four tires on a jet landing in Detroit blew out on the runway. No injuries were reported, and the airline said the cause likely was "an anti-skid braking issue" that had nothing to do with the strike.

The Boeing 757-200 at BWI was scheduled for a flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul, one of Northwest's main hubs, authorities said. The plane was in a holding area with no passengers aboard when workers discovered the tire problem about 11:30 a.m., officials said.

Morgano was unable to say how many passengers were expected for the flight on the plane, which can seat up to 228, according to Boeing's Web site. Passengers scheduled for yesterday's flight were transferred to other Minneapolis-bound planes, Morgano said.

The strike is the airline industry's first major walkout in seven years.

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