updated 12/21/2005 3:39:53 PM ET 2005-12-21T20:39:53

Guests: Danny Levy, Randy Smith, Jim Tilman, Mary Schiavo, Peter Goelz

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Right now, at this hour, we are stating with the breaking news that Alison was just talking about.  We have learned that a Midwest Airlines flight out of Boston has declared an emergency.  We‘re told that it is circling Boston‘s Logan Airport and will soon try to attempt a landing.  We‘re told that shortly after takeoff, someone saw sparks from the rear of the aircraft, and the pilot declared an emergency in this case.  We know that it is Midwest Airlines flight 210.

Again, we are told that it departed from Boston‘s Logan International Airport.  It was supposed to take off around 7:15 Eastern time, about two hours ago.  It was delayed, however, about 15 minutes or so and then took off around 7:30, about an hour-and-a-half ago.  It was scheduled—it was scheduled to arrive in Milwaukee just before 9:00 o‘clock Central time, around 10:00 o‘clock Eastern time.  But what happened, again, is shortly after takeoff, there were reports of sparks coming from the rear of the aircraft.  The pilot declared an emergency, and the aircraft is currently flying around Boston airport.  It could take up to an hour before they attempt a landing, and that could happen again, probably, about a half hour or so from now, if everything goes successfully.

There was a report that possibly there could be an issue with landing gear.  Sometimes that happens when you see sparks from the back of the plane.  Of course, all systems are on standby.  Lots of rescue crews, everybody‘s on standby there at Logan Airport.  This is standard procedure.  Luckily, the good news is a lot of times, when these planes have had problems in the past—for instance, just last night, there was a problem on an Air India flight, an international flight.  In that particular case, there was a landing gear problem, specifically they knew that.  The plane did land safely.  And of course, we all remember Jetblue, which happened, I believe, back in September.  That also had a landing gear problem.  It was stuck partway out.  That, again, also did land successfully.

At this point, they don‘t know what the problem is in this case, but they do know that they saw sparks shortly after takeoff from the rear of the aircraft, when the pilot on the flight declared an emergency.  It is Midwest Airlines flight 210.

You can see—in fact, this is a sort of a duplicate of the flight.  This isn‘t the exact plane, but this is sort of a duplicate of it.  We‘re also told, according to the Midwest Airlines Web site, it is a 717.  And they said, basically, it can hold a maximum of 88 passengers with two pilots and two flight attendants on board.  That‘s sort of a general outline for a 717, holding a maximum of about 92 people on the plane.  We don‘t know how many people are on board this flight.

And again, we don‘t know what the cause is.  But indeed, they did say that they saw some sparks from the rear of the aircraft.  Again, this is a flight that was flying around Boston airport at this time.  What they‘re trying to do is physically burn fuel because it weighs too much to make a landing because it had a pretty long flight, to begin with.  And what we‘re hearing was that—in fact, our producer, if you can repeat again who we have on the phone?

We have some—OK, we‘ve got right now on the phone, we‘ve got Danny Levy who is with us on the phone right now.  Danny, again—who are you with, Danny?

DANNY LEVY, MASSPORT DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS:  I‘m with Massport.

COSBY:  Danny, tell us what you know about this particular flight.

LEVY:  Well, everything you just said I can confirm absolutely.  There were a couple of airport workers who noticed the sparks from the airplane and alerted the pilot.  And now they‘re attempting to land the plane.

COSBY:  And give us a sense—do we know at all what the sparks were from?  Do we have any idea what caused them?

LEVY:  We have no idea.  We will not know until the plane lands, and it‘s expected to land at about 21:25.

COSBY:  At 21:25.  Is that Eastern or what time?

LEVY:  Eastern time.  I apologize.

COSBY:  So we‘re looking at 9:25 Eastern time, just about 20 minutes or so from now.

LEVY:  Exactly.

COSBY:  Any—have—give us a sense, too—again, the pilot reported problems shortly after take off.  How many minutes after takeoff did you get this sort of Mayday signal?

LEVY:  I got it about 10 minutes after takeoff.  But again, all details are being confirmed as we speak.

COSBY:  OK, you said 10 minutes.  And do you know exactly what the sense of the emergency was, what they said might have been—what was their experience?

LEVY:  All we know is that ground crews were—Logan workers noticed sparks from the plane, and that‘s all we at this point.

COSBY:  Give us a sense on what‘s happening on the ground there in

terms of preparations with rescue crews.  Of course, a lot of folks are

always on standby.  We can see in our live picture here—we see a lot of

looks like some emergency vehicles just waiting, just to make sure everything goes safely.

LEVY:  You said it correct.  We‘re just waiting to see what occurs right now.  We‘re waiting for the plane to land.  And we‘re anticipating for it to land without incident.

COSBY:  All right.  Danny, if you could stay with us real quickly because we have with us now Randy Smith.  He‘s with Midwest Airlines.  Randy, what know about this flight, flight 210?

RANDY SMITH, MIDWEST AIRLINES:  Flight 210 was—took off out of Boston, and the crew got two indications.  One is a “gear unsafe” light on the right landing gear, and the other was a “gear door open” light.  These are two separate indicators.  They consulted with our maintenance folks and elected to return to Boston.  But before they can, they need to burn off fuel so that the plane is within its weight limit.

COSBY:  Now, Randy, these two lights that came on, these are indicator lights, they came on, we were just hearing, a few minutes, what, about 10 minutes after takeoff?

SMITH:  Shortly after takeoff.  I don‘t have the exact time.

COSBY:  You know, we also know that this was delayed, this flight, about 15 minutes or so.  Was it delayed because there was some issues prior to takeoff?

SMITH:  I don‘t have that information, so I‘m not sure what (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  And tell us about the call that came in from the pilot.  Did he specifically point out these two indicator lights?

SMITH:  Yes, the pilots had two indicator lights, and they consulted with our maintenance control people and made a decision that they were best off to return to Boston.  And that is expected—they‘re expected to land somewhere near 8:30 Central time, which would be 9:30 on the East Coast.

COSBY:  So 9:30 on the East Coast here.  So just about 20 minutes or so.  Randy, explain us to the difference between the two lights, for folks at home.  What could be the problem, based on the signal lights from both of those devices?

SMITH:  When a plane takes off and the crew (INAUDIBLE) gear, there are three lights, one for the nose gear and one each (INAUDIBLE) gear.  And they turn green when the gear comes up and everything is fine.  In this case, one of the lights, the light for the right landing gear, did not turn green.  And so they knew that they had some issue with that gear.  And then they got a separate indication the gear door on that side was open.

COSBY:  I mean, what could possibly happen if there‘s an issue with both of these landing devices?

SMITH:  It‘s not clear.  Until we get back on the ground, we really won‘t know what the issue is.  It‘s obviously nothing that they can see from the aircraft.

COSBY:  Any sense that there may be any problems on terms of the landing?  Are you expecting a safe landing, based on these two issues?

SMITH:  We do expect a safe landing.  These are the kinds of situations that our crews train for, and we have every expectation that we‘ll be able to get the plane on the ground safely.

COSBY:  Can you tell us how many folks are on board Midwest Airlines flight 210?

SMITH:  Yes.  There are 86 passengers on board.

COSBY:  And how many crew members and flight attendants?

SMITH:  Four crew members, two pilots and two flight attendants.

COSBY:  OK.  And that‘s—so we‘ve got a total of 90?

SMITH:  That‘s correct.

COSBY:  OK.  Well, please keep us posted, sir.  We very much appreciate you being with us during a busy time, Randy.  We‘ll definitely get back to you.  If you could stick with us, in fact, we‘d appreciate that.

We want to bring in, if we could, Jim Tilman.  He‘s a retired American Airlines captain who‘s also with us.  Jim, you just heard from Randy Smith of Midwest Airlines.  They were talking about the two indicator lights, both tied to the landing gear.  How concerned should they be?

JIM TILMAN, FORMER AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOT:  Well, there‘s—there are a lot of questions here that we have not gotten answered yet.  One of them is, you know, it sounds like the gear did not retract fully.  And of course, that would then give you an unsafe condition because you‘re supposed to after (INAUDIBLE) they retract the landing gear.  And of course, the door still not being able to close means that gear may be somewhere between all the way down and all the way up.  And we don‘t know exactly where it is, and that—the fact that we don‘t know gives rise to the need for an emergency call on this.

Now, that being said, it may be possible for the gear to be lowered into a safe landing position.  What we don‘t know is whether or not he‘s able to get three green lights, or at least a green light for each one of the three gears, when he puts the gear down.  If he can do that, then I don‘t think that‘s a big problem here.

The other question in my mind is, Why did this happen?  It could happen as a result of this—this is speculation, but as a result of blown tires on that side.  That would not be a good situation, particularly if both tires blew.  And of course, (INAUDIBLE) it was the tires being in bad condition, not being able to retract into the airplane.

COSBY:  How often does this happen?  I mean, we do know that there are landing gear problems.  Unfortunately, we‘ve heard about a couple high-profile ones.  There was just an Air India one last night, Jim.  And also, we of course remember Jetblue, when that happened.  A lot of times they are concerns, and you have to play it safe.  But usually, they do land safely, correct?

TILMAN:  That‘s correct.  And I would suspect that that will happen tonight, too.  But you know, the considerations have to be on the side of safety.  The pilots are doing exactly the right thing.

COSBY:  And Jim, explain to folks at home why it‘s so critical to burn off the fuel.

TILMAN:  Well, you know, he could land with the airplane like it is right now.  It‘s not going to be unsafe to land.  However, if he has a landing gear problem, it‘s not prudent to land with more weight than he has to.  So the idea of burning off fuel is a very good idea.  And you know, the lighter the airplane, the slower it‘s going to be when it touches down and the easier it‘s going to be to handle and the less damage you could do in the event there is some problems with that landing gear.

COSBY:  You know, Jim, we noticed that this plane was about 15 minutes late.  Midwest Airlines couldn‘t say sort of what the reason for that was.  Could it have been related, do you think?

TILMAN:  I don‘t draw any conclusion from that whatsoever.  I mean, you know, a 15-minute delay is—it happens all the time.  So I wouldn‘t associate that with anything in particular.

COSBY:  And what do you see is ahead?  Do you expect—it‘s supposed to land at 9:25.  Obviously, lots of emergency workers.  They have to be careful, right, because it is still an uncertain situation, however likely it is going to land safely, right?

TILMAN:  In my view, the worst-case scenario would be if there‘s a problem with the right landing gear that‘s going to be significant.  That is to say, if you have two blown tires on that side or whatever else like that.  Or if the gear just will not—you can‘t move it from—it‘s in transition position from halfway up and halfway down.  Either one of those conditions would be very, very bad.  And I‘m glad that they have emergency equipment out.

But we are looking for the positive, and we‘re saying to ourselves that we‘re going to be able to get that gear down and land safely and everybody‘s just going to applaud on board, and we can go to bed OK.

COSBY:  And let me ask my producer because we are seeing a light right here.  Is this—I don‘t know if this is the plane or not, what we‘re seeing right here, some bright lights.  I‘m not sure.  It doesn‘t—I don‘t believe it is.  It‘s probably...

TILMAN:  No, that would not be...

COSBY:  ... from the emergency crews...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Yes.  What we‘re seeing is actually a lot of lights from another—couple other emergency vehicles coming in.  It‘s very dark there at Logan Airport, but it looks like some other emergency crews actually coming in, just getting ready just in case.  And of course, we‘re hoping that this will be a very safe landing.  Jim, we‘d like to come back to you when the plane does get a little bit closer.  It is supposed to land in less than about 15 minutes from now or so.  So what we will do, if we could, Jim, we‘d love to have you back on in about 15 minutes or so, when the plane is coming in, so you can explain it to our viewers.

Again, the good news is, it sounds like most likely, they will have a very safe landing.  It is Midwest Airlines flight 210.  We were told from the Midwest Airlines spokesperson that there are a total of 90 people are board, 86 passengers, (INAUDIBLE) crew.  It is expected to land 9:25 Eastern time and had some problems taking place right after takeoff.  There were issues of some sparks coming from the back of the plane.  And now we‘re also told two lights indicating some issues with the landing gear went on.  So not taking any chances, they decided to turn around, dump some fuel, which takes about an hour, and then head back to Logan Airport.  And of course, we will keep you posted when it does come in just a little over 10 minutes or so from now.

We‘re going to have a lot more on another plane crash, the case at Miami Beach, when we come back.  And we‘ll also keep you posted with what‘s happening in Boston.  Stick with us, everybody.  A lot more right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we have some breaking news at this hour, as you‘re looking at a live picture of Boston‘s Logan Airport.  Midwest Airlines flight 210 departed Boston airport.  It was en route to Milwaukee.  And we‘re told that in just about 10 minutes or so from now, it is expected to land.  Just after takeoff, about 10 minutes after takeoff, Midwest Airlines—we just had live just a few moments ago—said that two indicator lights came on, problems with the landing gear, one suggesting that maybe one of the doors was not fully closed, which could be an issue upon landing.  So rather than, you know, taking any chances, they decided to travel around, kind of loop around Boston‘s Logan Airport, dump some fuel, and then attempt to come back to Boston‘s airport and try to, of course, land safely.

We do not know what sort of sparked the whole issue, but we do know that there were some actual physical sparks coming from the rear of the aircraft.  The pilot noticed that, also noticed these indicator lights, and then declared an emergency.  And it should be landing again less than 10 minutes from how.  We will, of course, keep you posted.  We‘re told that there are about 90 people on board, 86 passengers, 4 crew members.  And as soon as we get information, as soon as—we see that inside of Logan Airport, as you‘re looking at a live picture of it, we will go back to that story.

Tonight, there‘s a lot of stories about planes and a lot of issues, unfortunately, with planes tonight.  Tonight, we have some new video released by the U.S. Coast Guard of the seaplane that crashed off Miami Beach on Monday, killing all 20 people on board that flight.  Take a look at this video.  You can see the plane crashing in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

Meantime, workers raised some of the wreckage from the water today.  And joining me now with the details is NBC‘s Kristen Dahlgren, with the very latest on that.  Kristen, what do you know from this now?

KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Rita, tonight, the NTSB tonight says that its investigation is progressing well, although there‘s still a long road ahead.  They‘re looking at things like that surveillance video that you just showed.  They‘re asking for any pictures and video that anyone that was out here on Miami Beach and may have been filming as they watched the plane crash.  So they will be looking at all of that.

From that video and also from eyewitness accounts, it appears that the plane‘s right wing broke off before it crashed into the sea here, so that is one of the main focuses of the investigation.  Part of that right wing was lifted from the water today.  That is just the start of this salvage effort.  All morning, divers were in the water here off of Miami Beach.  They were looking at the wreckage, mapping the debris field.  But because of how the wreckage was sitting, they weren‘t able to get to the cockpit voice recorder.  So they were really hoping that as they raise this fuselage, they‘ll be able to get that and get more clues from that.

So tomorrow morning, they will once again begin their salvage efforts, and that‘s when they‘ll be using some flotation devices to try and raise the fuselage, although the NTSB reports that the condition of that plane is very mangled, at this point.  It is in several pieces.  So it‘s going to be a very delicate process to get that off of the bottom of the ocean here and bring that up to the surface try and get more information on that.  That could take at least another day to get the fuselage out of the water.

Of course, the investigation could take several months.  And then there is the grieving process that is just beginning for so many families.  Twenty people were on board that plane.  All perished in the crash.  Many of them were from the Bahamas.  This flight was headed to Bimini, a small island in the Bahamas.  Some of them were here Christmas shopping.  There were families on board.  There were three infants on board.  And one man from Bimini says he had nine family members on board that plane.  So a tragedy, even as the investigation here continues, Rita.

COSBY:  Kristen, thank you very much.  We appreciate that update.

And of course, we‘ve got some dramatic new pictures also to show you tonight from the Southwest Airlines crash that happened two weeks ago.  This is what the Boeing 737 looked like after crashing through a fence at Chicago‘s Midway Airport and into the street.  The plane crushed a car and it killed a 6-year-old boy, Joshua Woods.  We now know that the little boy‘s parents are filing a lawsuit tomorrow morning in response to the crash.

Reporter Amy Jacobson with NBC station WMAQ spoke to Joshua‘s parents today, and she joins me now live from Chicago.  They have just got to be devastated.  It‘s amazing when you see these pictures, too.

AMY JACOBSON, WMAQ-CHICAGO:  Well, Rita, you know, before this, everyone in the Woods family used to love to drive by Midway Airport to watch the planes take off and land.  Now the family runs inside their home every time one flies overhead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEROY WOODS, JOSHUA WOODS‘S FATHER:  I feel greedy being thankful (ph)

I am alive because my son‘s not here.

JACOBSON (voice-over):  Lisa and Leroy Woods used to love to drive by Midway Airport to see the planes.

LEROY WOODS:  And I remember I was going to be (INAUDIBLE) right there (INAUDIBLE) be able to see more than lights.  We‘ll see the whole plane.  This is cool.

JACOBSON:  But on that snowy night, the noise got louder and louder, and soon the Southwest Airlines 737 engine was on top of their car.

LEROY WOODS:  Everywhere I looked in the car, I had no clue where Josh was at.

LISA WOODS, JOSHUA WOODS‘S MOTHER:  I just kept telling everybody, I think he‘s dead.  I think he‘s dead.  He goes, No, he‘s unconscious.  He‘s OK.  Like, No, he‘s not answering me.  It‘s a mother‘s feeling you get when your kid doesn‘t answer you.  And they looked with their big flashlights (INAUDIBLE) not a kid.  And I said, He‘s in there.  You have to find him.  He‘s there.  And they‘re yelling.  All the firemen are yelling that there‘s no one in there.  Like, he‘s there.

LEROY WOODS:  All I can say is the pilot was saying something out the window.  And I remember looking up at him, saying, Your plane is on top of my kids.  And I remember saying that to him, both of them.  I looked—they‘re both -- (INAUDIBLE) both their heads (ph).  (INAUDIBLE) both sides, and, Get your plane off of my kids now!

JACOBSON:  The Woodses consider Joshua a hero for protecting 1-and-a-half-year-old Matt, who was right next to him, and 4-year-old brother Jacob, who was also in the back seat.  In dealing with their grief, Lisa Woods wrote Joshua a letter.

LISA WOODS:  I‘m so, so sorry I said, Look and watch that plane, because it got you right in the face.  I know it did.  I regret so much not playing with you more, not saying, I love you, more than I did.  I hope you know how much—how much I truly, deeply love and miss you baby doll.  Love always, Mommy, my little chicken butt (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JACOBSON:  Now, that was his nickname because Joshua Woods loved to eat chicken.  The family‘s attorney will be filing a lawsuit tomorrow around 11:00 AM.  They‘ll be filing a lawsuit against the city of Chicago for allegedly not plowing the runway properly, Southwest Airlines and the two pilots.  But we would like to mention that the family has set up a memorial fund.  If any of you would like information on that, please log onto our Web site at www.nbc5.com—Rita.

COSBY:  Thank you very much, Amy.  Please keep us posted on that lawsuit.  Thank you very much.

And of course, we are watching another plane taking place right now.  If we can show some live pictures, if we can go back to Logan Airport, where we‘re awaiting, probably within the next three minutes, if everything goes as scheduled, the arrival of Midwest Airlines flight 210.  We were told from Midwest Airlines that 90 people are on board, 86 passengers, 4 crew.  Just a few minutes after takeoff, which took place 7:28 PM—so just about two hours ago, it took off from Boston‘s airport.  It was supposed to go to Milwaukee.  But just a few minutes after takeoff, two indicator lights went off, problems indicating with the landing gear.

And so they‘ve been dumping fuel for the last hour, going around—actually, more than an hour, it‘s been about two hours or so now—dumping fuel, trying to get rid of the fuel, trying to get rid of the weight so it can land safely, and particularly with the landing gear problem.

And I understand we have with us now on the phone Mary Schiavo.  She‘s the former DOT, Department of Transportation, inspector general.  Mary, give us a sense of what do you think is going to happen.  How are they going to approach the landing coming in now in about two minutes, if it‘s going as scheduled?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DOT:  Well, they will approach in the absolute best landing this pilot probably will ever make.  What they‘re going to do is they‘re going to come in very slowly.  They‘re going to try to bring that plane in just as lightly as possible.  That‘s why they‘re dumping the fuel.  And they‘re going to bring it in slowly and set it down as gently as they can on the runway, no hard landings, because what they have to worry about is if the landing gear isn‘t locked into place.

If, for example, the door—we had this issue on a problem with the Nike (ph) plane about a month ago, many might remember.  The door actually did not fit properly in there and was locking some of the gear, and that eventually did come down.  Or if there‘s a problem with the tires.  And so he will set it down very lightly, or she or whoever the pilot is, and then try to not put a lot of pressure on the gear.  They won‘t put on the, you know, hard thrust reversers.  They won‘t try to use the brakes dramatically.

And the people on board have probably been told everything.  I‘ve been on one of these flights myself, where the landing gear did not come down and lock.  It‘s pretty tense, but the one I was on, the pilot told us everything that was going on, and we had a safe landing, albeit kind of smoky.  The tires did not lock into place, and so they burned and skidded.

But statistically, this plane should—you know, should make a safe landing, and statistics say that it will.  And certainly, we hope that it will.  But that‘s—it will be a soft, very good landing, and the pilot will be aiming to do the best one that that pilot ever did.

COSBY:  And Mary, I just want to tell our viewers we‘re looking at a live picture.  This is WHDH.  They have their own chopper.  So this is the chopper from WHDH, which is our Boston affiliate up there, which has been doing a good job covering this.  And of course, at this point, we‘re hoping it‘s certainly going to land safe and sound, and that it‘s just, at the very least, a bumpy, bumpy landing.

Mary, stick with us because we got Jim Tilman also.  I want to bring him in.  He‘s a retired American Airlines captain.  Jim, what do you think they can expect, and what do you think we will see coming in—as we‘ve got a shot of Logan Airport, a pretty incredible shot from the sky now?

TILMAN:  It‘s unfortunate we can‘t get a little bit closer because I think what you‘ll really see is this pilot is going to come down, and if that‘s the right gear that‘s giving him the problem, for an example...

COSBY:  Yes, what—give us a sense...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... it means, also, Jim, with the two indicator lights.  Walk us through, if our viewers are just joining us now...

TILMAN:  OK.

COSBY:  ... because we heard from our Midwest Airlines spokesman that there were two sort of unsafe lights, you know, signaling that there‘s a problem.  What could have been the issue that sparked this?  Because in addition to that, there were some physical sparks coming from the rear of the aircraft there were reports of.

TILMAN:  Well, first of all, we don‘t know exactly where those sparks were coming from.  With an aircraft like that, when it‘s in flight, you could have sparks which could come from the landing gear, and it looks like it‘s coming out of the rear of the airplane.  So you can‘t really go by a location on that.

The other thing is, as I understand it, they had two unsafe lights.  One was a gear unsafe light, simply meaning that you don‘t have either a green light saying the gear is all the way down, or have no light at all, saying the gear is all the way up and retracted.  So it has to be somewhere in transition.  At least, it sounds like it.  The other was a door light, showing that the door was not properly in the proper position.

I would think what this guy‘s going to do, or this gal‘s going to do, if you don‘t mind, is to come down and touch down very gently on the good landing gear, the one that‘s not giving him any problems, and just kind of very, very—as the speed dissipates, going to very gently bring the other landing gear down and let it just kind of tickle the runway and just test it a little bit to see how well it‘s going to do.

He‘ll keep the weight off of the questionable landing gear as long as possible and see if he can get the airplane slowed, so that in the event that there is a problem with that gear, that it‘s not going to create a disaster.  The thing that I‘m concerned about is the condition of the tires, in case both of them are blown on that side, and/or if the gear itself is not in the proper lockdown position.  Either one of those could create some serious problems.

COSBY:  And what kind of problems could we see, just unstability with the aircraft?  And certainly, one of the things Mary was talking about, maybe the tires could get blown out?

TILMAN:  Well, those kind of things can happen.  And you know, I don‘t want to speculate beyond—you know, to create some kind of feeling of disaster here.  But the thing that I‘m concerned about is if the gear failed completely on that side, and of course, your—that wing is going to settle into the runway, that would not be good.  And if it didn‘t fail but it stayed in that position, it would still put the right wingtip, if the right side is the one that‘s questionable, too close to the runway.  And I don‘t like that because now you have the problem of a wing that‘s got fuel in it and that sort of thing.

Incidentally, they don‘t dump fuel on that airplane, I don‘t believe (INAUDIBLE) They burned it off.  That‘s why they‘ve been in the air that long.

COSBY:  Yes, and in fact, you know, Mary was talking about the Nike jet incident that happened November 21.  In that case, I‘ve just gotten some information, they were actually flying for six hours before landing.  So the fact that these guys were flying for two hours is a lot less time. 

And in that case, landed safely.

Typically, Jim, the good news is, you know, a lot of times, unfortunately, there are these landing gear problems, but they do typically land safely, right?

TILMAN:  That‘s correct.  And I think that everyone that‘s watching this should realize that while I have mentioned the worst-case scenario, I can say that that‘s like a very small percentage of the time that we have for these emergencies.  I‘d say well over 90 percent of the time, we end up with a non-event, you know, and we‘ve all been sitting on pins and needles for no reason at all because they actually do a very excellent job of getting the airplane on the ground.  And of course, emergency crews are right there.

COSBY:  Oh, absolutely.  Stick with us, Jim.

Mary, I don‘t know, what do you know Midwest Airlines, too, in terms of their track record?

SCHIAVO:  They have a very good track record.  Their only crash was probably over a decade ago.  They have been rated very highly by their passengers, getting some of the best passenger satisfaction rates.  And there was a time—I don‘t know the current numbers, but there was a time when they had one of the newest fleets in the industry.  So they get very high marks by their customers.  And as far as accident statistics go, they‘ve had a very clean record (INAUDIBLE) their last crash had to be at least 10 years ago.  So they‘ve had a very good record.

And Boston—of course, this airport—you can see from the pictures that you‘re showing now, they‘ve got that emergency equipment out there.  And as someone who‘s been a passenger on one of these, that‘s actually very reassuring.  And when you‘re coming in and you‘re sitting in that plane, when you see the runway lined with the flashing lights, it does help.  Let me tell from you experience, it helps the passengers on board to know that all that crew is there, the emergency crews waiting on you, if it‘s needed.

COSBY:  You know, Mary, do you know anything about, as we‘re looking at a shoot here with all of these emergency crews going up and down, which, as you say, is definitely a very good sign.  They seem well-prepared.  Is there a sense—and, producer, if you can tell me what we‘re looking at here, we‘re seeing going down.  We don‘t know what this is...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Yes, it could be it.  As soon as we know for sure, of course, we‘ll keep you posted.  Oh, this is a takeoff one as we‘re just seeing. 

SCHIAVO:  Yes, right.

COSBY:  So this is certainly not it.  But as soon as we know that this flight is coming in, we‘ll definitely keep you posted.  But we did see—the good news is we did see a lot of emergency crews there on the ground. 

You know, Mary, do you know the sense of—we just saw another plane taking off—the sense of the runway there?  Is that a long runway at Logan? 

SCHIAVO:  Well, it‘s long enough for this plane.  It‘s certainly not among the longest in the country.  But for this aircraft—it‘s not a big, heavy plane—it will be adequately long. 

And they do have—I‘d like to mention they do have some good equipment.  I don‘t believe they have—they might have one arrester bed, which is the thing that stops it at the end of the runway.  I do not believe the airport is fully equipped with arrester beds.  But Logan should certainly be able to handle this plane.  It‘s not nearly as big, for example, as the one in Chicago. 

COSBY:  Yes, absolutely.  In fact, give us a—this is a 210.  They said capacity is, in this particular one, 90, but it could carry a maximum of 92.  So this is not a large plane, Mary, right, in the scheme of things? 

SCHIAVO:  Right.  It‘s not a large plane in the scheme of things.  It‘s a very new plane.  It‘s one of Boeing‘s newer ones.  And, like you said, it‘s kind of an extended regional jet, if you will.  So it‘s not a heavy one; it‘s certainly not considered heavy.  And it‘s not a wide body; it‘s a narrow body.  So the runways at Logan are quite adequate for it. 

COSBY:  And, of course, just everybody, stick with us, Mary and Jim, because I just want to bring everybody up to speed.  We‘re just looking at some live pictures of planes coming in and out and also of the runway there at Logan Airport, as we‘re awaiting the arrival of Midwest Airlines Flight 210.

It departed from Boston‘s Logan airport a little over two hours ago.  And right after takeoff, the pilot signaled—said that there were apparently sparks, we were hearing, from the rear of the aircraft, at least sparks from some part of the plane. 

The pilot declared an emergency.  Two indicator lights went on about problems with the landing gear, one also suggesting that a door was not fully closing on the landing gear.  At that point, they knew immediately that there at least were some problems. 

They wanted to play it safe.  So they spent the last two hours or so burning fuel.  This particular plane, Jim was pointing out, doesn‘t seem to be able to dump fuel.  Some planes can actually do this.  But this one actually burned fuel.  In the past, some flights have actually burned fuel for six, seven, eight hours.  This one had thought it was sufficient after probably two hours to dump fuel. 

And that‘s what it has been doing for the last two hours or so, as it is coming in.  And we are now awaiting the arrival of this plane from Logan Airport.  It was supposed to come in at 9:25. 

Let me bring if I could Tom Costello, our great ABC—NBC ace reporter covering aviation for a long time, NBC journalist Tom Costello.

Tom, what do we know about this particular... 

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rita, well, just a couple of notes about the 717.  You‘ve been talking about it.  You know, usually you think that the higher up you go in these numbers or the lower you go, that would give you a sense of how early the production was.  But quite the opposite on the 717.

The first order was back in ‘95.  The first rollout was in ‘98.  So this is really a newer plane.  The first delivery of the 717 was back in 1999.  AirTran Airways used them, as a matter of fact. 

So you‘re looking at plane that is used quite often in these short-haul passenger flights, if you will, 100-passenger airline markets or so.  It‘s a twin-engine jet, generally.  And it has a two-class configuration, which about 106 seats or so. 

And so this is not an older plane, by any stretch of the imagination.  This is a newer one, as you might expect.  And you are, of course, also looking at a very sophisticated runway operation at Logan, in terms of the ability at that airport to deal with any emergency whatsoever, one of the busiest airports in the country, completely prepared and ready for any type of contingency. 

Now, of course, one issue, as you clearly have been talking about already, is whether these warning lights are, in fact, legitimate or whether they may be a phantom warning light of some sort, trying to get a sense of exactly what the problem is, if any at all. 

COSBY:  You know, Tom, also, have you gotten any update on the arrival of this flight?  It was supposed to arrive about 10 minutes or so ago.

COSTELLO:  I don‘t have that in front of me, Rita.  And I‘m checking, as a matter of fact, as we speak. 

COSBY:  Anything also—give us a sense of, too, what happens at the

airport?  You and I have both covered a lot of these things.  Most of the -

the airport is basically shut down, I would imagine, for a good part, at least in a large portion of it, right? 

COSTELLO:  Well, generally, you will see some traffic continue to move, you know, on and off the runways while they allow this plane to burn fuel.  And you‘re absolutely right.  They really don‘t dump fuel, because of the environmental concerns.  You know, it has to be a really big emergency before they would dump fuel.  They‘ll just burn it off.

But, you know, most of the runways will operate normally.  And then they wait until this plane has burned off sufficiently fuel.  And then they‘ll go ahead and bring it in.

I was on a plane that had an emergency landing, as a matter of fact. 

And I‘m not sure:  Are we looking right now at that plane landing? 

COSBY:  We don‘t know that for a fact.  We know that we‘ve been seeing some planes coming in and out.  But until we get that confirmed, Tom, I‘ll let you know as soon as we do. 

We don‘t know—again, everybody, just as we‘re watching this right now, this is a flight coming in.  And we do see a number of emergency vehicles around it.  Again, we don‘t have it confirmed yet.  But we do not know if this is attached to it or not. 

We‘re told, in fact, that it looks like it‘s actually just coming in solo at this point.  So at this point, it is unclear at all if this is related to it.  We‘ve been showing planes coming on and off, getting in and out of the runways, and taking off from our helicopter there, WHDH, which is our affiliate there in Boston. 

And again, everybody, if you‘re joining us for the first time, we are waiting the arrival of Midwest Airlines Flight 210.  It is a 717.  And as Tom Costello and I have just been talking about, a fairly small plane in the scheme of things.  We‘re told, on this particular flight, 86 passengers, four crewmembers.  It looks like the picture that you‘re seeing there.

It was supposed to arrive about 10 minutes ago to the very busy airport, one of the busiest in the country, Boston Logan Airport.  And what happened is, just a few minutes after takeoff, we were told that two indicator lights went off related to the landing gear, one specifically saying that one of the doors was not closed. 

The pilot, not taking any chances, then decided to burn off fuel for the last two hours or so.  And what was supposed to be landing—and, in fact, I‘m just getting an update now, being told that it is about 10 minutes or so away. 

So, again, just ten minutes or so away, this is according to WHDH, our affiliate that we‘re getting all these live pictures from.  HDH is up in the chopper, so that‘s how we‘re getting this sort of aerial view from the sky as it coming in. 

It was supposed to land at 9:25.  But, Tom, if you‘re still with me, it‘s fairly typical that these things get delayed.  They just sort of made a guestimate, it sounds like, before.  But a lot of times, maybe they realized they needed to burn a little more fuel, right, before they could come in? 

COSTELLO:  Oh, absolutely.  And, you know, the pilot—they want to make sure the pilot is absolutely comfortable with the landing he‘s going to make or she‘s going to make, depending on who‘s in the cockpit.  And they will talk through this a number of times. 

And as we‘ve discussed many times, the pilot is going to be on the phone, on the radio, with not only Midwest Airlines personnel, but very often he will have immediate communication, as well, with the Boeing personnel who are experts on this plane. 

They‘ll put him in communication, satellite communication with Boeing headquarters out in Seattle.  And they‘ll talk him through every possible contingency.  What could the problem be exactly?  They will look at whether there‘s anything he can do mechanically or electronically to try to resolve this issue before they come down on the runway.

I was saying earlier, I was in an emergency landing.  You ask what kind of personnel are on the ground and what happens.  I was on an emergency situation—when we took off from Sarasota Airport and immediately lost an engine, as we ingested a large flock of birds, we thought at the time, and immediately made an emergency landing in Tampa. 

And, of course, you have all of those the fire department personnel on the ground, immediately surrounded our plane.  We had no incident whatsoever.  But you had obviously paramedic units on the ground, as well as fire fighting apparatus, prepared immediately for any contingency. 

And, of course, you can expect the exact same at Boston Logan, with the city personnel backing up the airport personnel, if that becomes necessary. 

COSBY:  You know, Tom, you talked about a very sophisticated runway. 

Is this also a long runway?  Does it give a lot of latitude?  Unfortunately, as we saw, you know, with the Southwest Airlines flight at the airport in Chicago, the runway was right next to the city, right next to the main street. 

It wasn‘t a long runway, which made, you know, a very narrow sort of landing.  In this case, you know, from my knowledge of Logan, I remember it being at least a little bit more remote and at least a little more area to land, right? 

COSTELLO:  That is true.  But I must tell you, I don‘t have the runway configuration numbers in front of me, so I‘d hate to speculate on exactly the length of it.  But there you can see the emergency personnel who are clearly on standby and prepared to move in. 

COSBY:  Give us a sense, too, Tom, also with the landing gear issues.  We‘ve been pointing out that these have been, unfortunately, fairly common lately.  I mean, the Nike—you know, when they had the issue of the problems with the Nike plane.  Luckily, that landed safely.  There was a corporate jet, I believe, carrying four Nike employees...

COSTELLO:  Right.

COSBY:  ... executives, had to burn off for six hours before landing. 

There was the JetBlue, of course, that we were all covering, Flight 292.  That, fortunately, landed safely, as well.  But this happens quite frequently, right? 

COSTELLO:  Yes, well, you know what?  I think it happens a heck of a lot more frequently, frankly, than we report on, because this is—I don‘t want to say it‘s routine, but these things happen on a regular basis.  And I would, you know, just remind you that we‘ve had two weeks or three weeks here of a couple of tragedies. 

The first one involving the 737 in Chicago, where a young boy died when the Southwest plane went off the end of the runway, but nobody on board the plane died.  And there was no, you know—there‘s some talk now about whether the thrusters did not work properly on landing, the reverse thrusters.  But we‘re working on that still, to find out exactly what caused that. 

And then, of course, we just had two days ago, or yesterday, rather, the flight that went down in—pardon me, I have some feedback here—the flight that went down just off of Miami.  And that looks like, preliminarily, there may be some issue there in terms of metal fatigue.  I mean, that‘s—they‘re looking at that, among other issues.  But when you have a flight where it looks like, perhaps, the wing came off, that‘s a 58-year-old plane right there. 

My point here is that we‘ve gone through four years, really, of remarkable aviation safety, with the exception of these two incidents, remarkable aviation safety.  And if you talk to the people who are—who work for and are executive officers of both Airbus and Boeing, they really feel like they have made tremendous strides over the last 10, 15, 20 years in their ability to manufacture out any reason, a mechanical reason, for a crash. 

Now, of course, they never want to absolutely say they‘ve done that 100 percent, but the point here is that these have become just extraordinarily well-manufactured and very safe aircraft, that are made by both Boeing and Airbus.  And, very often, they look for other reasons why there may be a difficulty with a particular plane. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Now, and if you want to make some calls, Tom, and come back to us in just a few minutes, because we‘re expecting at 9:45 Eastern time—we‘re looking at just about 3 ½ minutes from now, that‘s the expected arrival time, according to WHDH, which is our local affiliate there in Boston. 

I want to bring in, if I could, Peter Goelz.  He‘s, of course, the former managing director of the NTSB, which looks into these incidents with planes. 

Peter, describe for us sort of how this plane would come in when it comes in.  Again, we‘re told it should be coming in, in the next three or four minutes. 

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR:  Well, you want it to come in on the longest possible runway, because the crew is not aware of the condition of what their landing gear is.  So you want a long runway.  Logan Airport is one of the finest airports in the country.  They‘ve got great emergency response.  So, in the end, it may be an electrical malfunction or it may, in fact, be a real physical problem with the aircraft. 

COSBY:  What do you make, Peter—you know, we were hearing two issues with the landing gear.  One, specifically, those lights, those warning lights, which is, obviously, a tremendous and positive thing in the planes, indicating that there may have been some problems, one of them specifically tied to a door that may not have closed.  What could have—what could that result in?  And explain how common that is or uncommon? 

GOELZ:  Well, I mean, it‘s not uncommon to get readings on various aspects of your aircraft that may have malfunctioned.  Sometimes it‘s an electrical problem.  Sometimes it‘s the result of real failure.  But in this case, it‘s not clear yet whether the landing gear is not going to—whether the landing gear is not going to operate appropriately. 

COSBY:  And, Peter, real quick, how often are those lights, realistic or phantom lights, you know, giving off wrong signals?  We did hear, though, in this case that there were some sparks coming, so there may have been some legitimate concern here.

GOELZ:  Well, (INAUDIBLE) you know, on takeoff, they (INAUDIBLE) a tail strike.  And, you know, again, it‘s not usual, but it is not completely uncommon with a 717 or that kind of plane.  It means that, for whatever reason, as it was taking off, the tail of the aircraft struck the runway. 

Is it a good thing?  No, it isn‘t.  Is it a thing that‘s going to indicate that this is going to be huge problems?  It may not be. 

COSBY:  And how quickly will they be able to determine, if indeed this is the case, that there is a determination with the gear, you being with NTSB?  Can they determine that fairly quickly after landing? 

GOELZ:  Well, you know, if it‘s a successful landing, the NTSB will send a team up.  They‘ll take a look at it.  They‘ll be able to take the lead on this in a fairly short time.  I mean, if it‘s not a successful landing, then the investigation‘s going to take a much longer time. 

COSBY:  How common, from your perspective, Peter—and I know you and I talked quite a bit when you were at the NTSB—you know, how common is this issue with these types of problems with the gear? 

GOELZ:  It‘s not common but it‘s not uncommon.  I mean, these things happen.  People get concerned about it.  You know, frankly, I think, you know, because we‘ve had the accident down in Florida with the G-73 that probably the sensitivity is greater, but it‘s not something that happens all the time, but it happens occasionally. 

COSBY:  You know, how much, Peter, do you think the folks on board the plane—you know, I remember when the JetBlue issue happened, when they had a problem with their landing gear, and we, of course, and all the other stations were covering it very, very carefully, it landed safely, which was, of course, the great news.  There were 140 passengers on that one.  And that happened September 22nd

They actually had monitors in the plane.  They had the TV sets.  You know, passengers were saying that they were watching, you know, the landing coming in while they were on the plane.  How much knowledge do you think the folks on board this flight have? 

GOELZ:  Well, in this case, I don‘t think they have the kind of, you know, entertainment system that is available on JetBlue, but I‘m sure the cabin crew and the flight crew has informed the passengers that they‘ve got an issue, that they need to be prepared in the appropriate way for the landing and, you know, it‘s a tense environment on board.  But, listen, you know, these pilots and flight attendants, they are trained.  They know what to do.  You know, I‘m confident they‘ll get through this. 

COSBY:  You know, and, Peter, also, it‘s been spending the last two hours-plus burning off fuel.  Explain just for our folks at home why that is so critical, because it had just taken off, then the lights went off.  That was the good news that it was close to an airport, at least, but it‘s spent the last two hours burning off the fuel.  Explain for folks at home why.

GOELZ:  Well, in some planes, you‘re able to dump fuel.  In others,

you are not.  In this case, you‘re not able to dump fuel, so you‘re able to

you want to burn it off to make the plane lighter, to make it more maneuverable, to minimize, you know, the weight of the plane as it comes in. 

COSBY:  You know, and, Peter, how much communication at this point, as it should be any moment now that this flight is coming in, Midwest Airlines Flight 210, but as it is coming in, how much communications, real quick, of the tower? 

GOELZ:  Well, they‘re having constant communications.  And Midwest Airlines is a wonderful carrier.  I mean, they—you know, I used to live in Kansas City, used to fly them all the time.  They‘re a good carrier.  They‘re in constant communication.  They‘re going to, you know, do everything they can to make this a successful landing. 

COSBY:  All right, Peter, if you could stick with us, because the plane should be coming in any moment, as we‘re looking at some live pictures here from Logan Airport. 

Let me bring in NBC aviation correspondent Tom Costello.  Tom, what do you know?

COSTELLO:  Well, I just got off the phone with the FAA.  So a little bit more information here.  You know, they say he was supposed to have landed after about an hour burning fuel.  It‘s now been about an hour-and-a-half or so, and he‘s still circling. 

He did depart off of runway 22 right. They don‘t yet know which runway he would come in on.  And he‘s right now circling at about 5,000 feet. 

I would just underscore exactly what you just were talking about.  This is certainly not a common, but it is certainly not something that is not routine.  In other words, they do this on a regular enough basis that they have good, good practice at. 

You know, you have in-flight emergencies all the time.  And thankfully, for the vast majority of times, they are nothing to be terribly concerned about.  I would also keep in mind that, at any one time, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 to 10,000 planes in the air in North American airspace. 

And so that just gives you a sense of how incredibly well this system moves and operates that we don‘t have more incidents.  In fact, incidents are so few and far between that we talk about them like this when they do come along. 

But, as you heard, this is a 717, a remarkably well-made aircraft, by all accounts, and this is probably going to end up being a very standard landing, but they take all precautions necessary. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  No, and that is the good news, that we‘re covering something like this indicates just the rarity of it.  And as we heard just also from Peter Goelz, you know, people are sometimes on edge after the other crashes that had happened recently.  Fortunately, a lot of people land with landing gear problems. 

And, again, we‘re looking at some live pictures right now.  This is WHDH‘s vantage point picture.  And they‘re saying that this may be the plane.  We‘re waiting for some clear confirmation.  But WHDH is saying that, indeed, this may be the plane coming in. 

Tom, stick with us if you could.  Let me bring in Mary Schiavo, if she‘s with us.  Mary, of course, is a former Department of Transportation inspector general. 

Mary, we‘re waiting for confirmation that this is, indeed, the Midwest Airlines flight.  We heard from Tom it departed from the runway.  Is it possible, maybe, it hit something on the runway? 

SCHIAVO:  Well, it is possible.  That‘s what happened to the Concorde when the Concorde crashed in France, oh, about five or six years ago.  It did get what they call FOD, foreign object damage, on takeoff.  It had been dropped from a Continental jet.  So that is possible. 

We don‘t do what they call FOD walks, foreign object damage reviews of

the runway before planes take off, because it‘s not considered generally

necessary in this country.  But it‘s possible that that had occurred, but -

and I did notice in one of the shots that you had, there were people out there looking at the runway.  But other planes were still using it, so apparently there isn‘t anything there, but that is certainly the cause of the Concorde crash. 

COSBY:  You know, the other thing, too, this is delayed, of course.  We were expecting it—in fact, we had the Midwest spokesman on our show about a half-an-hour ago, actually, at the top of the hour.  And he said he thought around 9:30 Eastern time, about 20 minutes ago, it was going to come in. 

Is that just because they made an irregular guestimate, I guess, in terms of fuel?  Sometimes they have to burn more than they expect to hit that weight limit?

SCHIAVO:  Or maybe the pilot was being extra cautious and wanted to lighten it even further.  They might have estimated that they would burn off a certain amount of fuel to aim for a specific landing weight and then wanted to be extra cautious. 

No, those onboard flight computers can calculate the fuel burning incredibly accurately.  I doubt that they miscalculated.  They just probably wanted extra safety. 

COSBY:  Tell us also, Mary, too, you know, and, again, we‘re looking at a shot of what may be the plane.  WHDH is saying it‘s getting some information—that‘s our Boston affiliate, which we‘re looking at the live pictures—because it has a chopper up in the sky, and they‘re getting some indications that this may be the flight coming in.  When we get some clear confirmation, everybody, we will tell you.  But it looks like it could be the plane. 

Are you getting a look at this at all, Mary?  Can you see it? 

SCHIAVO:  I am.  I see it.  I see it very clearly. 

COSBY:  Does it look like a 717 at all? 

SCHIAVO:  It does.  It‘s got the high horizontal stabilizer in the

back.  It certainly does look like it.  And if so, I mean, you don‘t have

much of a, you know, reference point to see how it‘s moving.  But it

certainly looks like it‘s moving slowly, relative to the ground and the

reference points, which would be exactly what the pilot‘s supposed to do. 

And everyone‘s in brace position, because that‘s the standard procedure on board.  They would have had the passengers prepared.  And certainly, that‘s what we did on the one that I was on.  And you‘re obviously holding your breath and the pilot‘s doing the best that they possibly can. 

That‘s certainly it what it looks like it is.  And I see the tail.  It does look like that. 

COSBY:  Yes, it sure does.  It looks like a Midwest tail coming in. 

It looks like it‘s coming in clean, Mary, at least at this point. 

SCHIAVO:  Oh, I hope so.

COSBY:  Walk us through—walk us through what‘s coming—oh, absolutely—walk us through what‘s going on, what they‘re doing physically at this point, as we‘re very close to the landing?

SCHIAVO:  Physically, it‘s slow.  They‘re going to, you know, very carefully guiding it in so the wings don‘t, you know, have any rocking movement whatsoever.  They‘re going to try to keep it on the good gear, to the extent possible.  They don‘t want to hit hard on the bad gear. 

And watching every kind of, you know, any kind of signal or indication that there is.  They would still have the ability, if things didn‘t look right, until the moment they actually touched down, they would have the ability to do a go-around. 

COSBY:  It just went over a little bit of water.  It looks like it‘s about to touch down. 

SCHIAVO:  That‘s it.  Yes, that‘s the—it‘s very, very slow, which is good.  That‘s what you want.  He‘s got the one gear down.  No sparks.  Sparks on the other gear, but that‘s not a lot, compared to what I‘ve seen on others. 

COSBY:  Mary, I‘ve seen a little bit of sparks though.  It looks like we are seeing some sparks.

SCHIAVO:  A little bit of sparks.  It looks like the door of the gear door—now, that‘s not so good.  It looks like the gear door is actually rubbing against the landing gear itself.  That would give you sparks.  They probably will do an emergency chute evacuation, since they do have indication of sparks.  They‘ll be having an indicator in the cockpit.  But if it was going to collapse, it would have by now. 

COSBY:  So that‘s a good sign, obviously.  It looks like the pilot‘s in control.

SCHIAVO:  I think they can breathe a sigh of relief. 

COSBY:  Yes, it looks like the pilot‘s in pretty good control, right? 

SCHIAVO:  Absolutely, absolutely.  They may not even put the chutes out.  The sparking has stopped.  The tower will be telling them that. 

You know, some people get injured on the chutes.  I‘d worked on the crash of the plane in Toronto at Pearson on August 2nd of this year.  And many people were injured on the chute.  So they don‘t like to do that unnecessarily, because you can get your back hurt and your legs hurt and your legs broken going down the chute. 

So they won‘t pop those unless they feel it‘s necessary.  There go the emergency equipment, of course.  I don‘t see the chutes coming out.  And it‘s the pilot that must order that.  So the pilot has apparently not ordered the chute evacuation, emergency evacuation.  So the pilot feels that everything is under control and no risk of fire, otherwise the chutes would have been popped open by now. 

COSBY:  Absolutely, that‘s a very good sign.  And we can see now clearly it is a Midwest Airlines flight, as we suspected.  And all the emergency crews, of course, rushing gear to the scene.  Again, this is—everybody, if you‘re just joining us for the first time, this is Midwest Airlines flight, we believe, 210, by all indications.

It departed Logan Airport 7:28, so about 2 ½ hours ago.  But minutes after takeoff, two indicator lights went off, problems with the landing gear.  One of the them—one of the doors that was not closing. 

Immediately, the pilot did, of course, the right things, playing it safe, wanting to be safe, of course, with now 90 people on board, 86 passengers, four crew, we‘re told.  And what they decided to do is stick close to the airport, as opposed to going to its destination, which was supposed to be Milwaukee.

Instead, it hovered around Boston Airport for the last, basically, 2 ½ hours, burning off fuel.  It was supposed to land about a half-an-hour ago.  They probably—as we heard from Mary, who was, of course, the former Department of Transportation inspector general, Mary Schiavo—was telling us they probably were just trying to burn a little more, just to play it safe, which makes sense, just to be super-light upon landing, particularly with the problems with the landing gear. 

And as we just saw coming in just about two minutes ago, it looks it landed safely.  We did see some sparks.  We did see—I agree with you, Mary.  It looked like one of the doors was rubbing on that side. 

SCHIAVO:  That‘s right. 

COSBY:  How long until they can determine if, indeed, it was a landing gear problem?  It sounds like it was, just even physically looking at it. 

SCHIAVO:  It was.  And once the firefighters are done determining that there‘s no risk of a fire or, you know, something erupting after the landing, on the one that I was on like this, they kept us on board for, oh, quite some time.  I suppose it was about an hour or so.  They did take us off the active runway. 

But before they deplaned us and took us to the gate, they actually had some personnel come out and look at the plane, and then they finally they did—the plane was actually right on the—they didn‘t take us to the gate.

So they will be able to look at that, and Midwest people will be looking at it, as soon as they get it off of the runway.  And they‘ll probably be determining that within an hour or so, as to what—if that‘s what it was. 

The mechanics will go out there and look at it.  Obviously, they won‘t put it back in service.  These people will be on another plane or—at Logan, they‘ll be put up overnight. 

But this plane will be back in service rather promptly, not tonight, but they will have to replace that gear and check it out fully.  But it‘s not—it‘s certainly not something that would take this plane out of service for too awfully long. 

COSBY:  No.  And the good news is, as everybody says, it lands safely.  And I‘m sure those people are happy, once they heard that there were some problems, that it did land safely with those indicator lights going off.  It looks like it was doing some scraping, but a fairly smooth come-in and landing by that pilot. 

Mary, stick with us.  We‘ve got Tom Costello, our NBC correspondent. 

Tom, what do you know? 

COSTELLO:  Well, I would just point out—I just did a quick check. 

It‘s 27 degrees there right now.  And it‘s 17 degrees with the wind chill. 

So it‘s a cold night in Boston. 

And anybody who‘s been at that airport, with the wind coming up off the water, knows it‘s just bone-chilling cold.  I would think there would have to be a consideration, as well, in terms of, you know, when the pilot was deciding whether or not he wanted to put out the chutes, and he realized that whatever sparks he did have were minimal, and he looks at the weather conditions outside, you don‘t want a bunch of people sitting out on the tarmac in that kind of extreme cold if he thinks he‘s got the situation under control.  And it certainly looks like it is. 

And I would just underscore, once again, that this just really does yet again show how incredibly safe, generally, these airplanes are, that are manufactured and built to today‘s standards.  You know, you get a—this would really be considered a very minor type of a mechanical issue here, in which it appears that a door to a landing gear did not close properly.

And it caused some sparks when it scraped.  But beyond that, this is really, as Mary was mentioning, a minor event.  This plane will be back in service very quickly.  Everybody on board is fine.  All the precautions were taken, absolutely by-the-book.  And I suspect that they‘ll be back in the terminal having hot chocolate here within an hour. 

COSBY:  Yes, and very thankful that it was a minor ordeal, too.  Tom, thank you so much.

And let me bring in Mary.  Final thoughts tonight to a pretty good landing, too, by that pilot, huh?  Real quick. 

SCHIAVO:  Well, final thoughts.  Everybody on board was cheering, to be sure and looking forward to Christmas and the other holidays, the rest of the holiday season, with more vigor and more joy than before. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And thank you for being with us throughout this area—hour, rather, Mary.  Thank you very much.  And also Tom Costello, too, and Peter Goelz, everybody joining us this hour.  We very much appreciate it.

And again, we‘re going to close, as we look at the live pictures, as now emergency crews are surrounding the plane.  Midwest Airlines Flight 210 came in safely just about, gosh, about five minutes or so ago.  As we were told, two problems, two lights going off, issues with the landing gear. 

We could see some sparks coming in, as it arrived into Logan Airport, but the plane came in smoothly.  The pilot did an outstanding job, didn‘t even have to put the chute out, meaning that things were quite good.  And fortunately, a happy ending, at this point.  So good news for Midwest Airlines.

And that does it for us.  Let‘s go to Catherine Crier now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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