A Boeing passenger jet's nose wheel fell off just before takeoff

Delta Air Lines Flight 982 was waiting to take off in Atlanta when the wheel “came off and rolled down the hill,” the FAA said in a preliminary report.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 lands at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2020.Nicolas Economou / AP file

The nose wheel of a Boeing 757 jet fell off and rolled away while the plane was waiting on the runway for takeoff clearance, with almost 200 people on board.

Delta Air Lines Flight 982 was moments away from taking off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta on Saturday when the wheel "came off and rolled down the hill," according to a preliminary report from the Federal Aviation Administration published Monday.

The plane had 172 passengers — as well as two pilots and four crew members — and was bound for Bogotá, the Colombian capital, Delta said Wednesday. But passengers were instead removed from the plane and later put on a replacement flight. There were no injuries.

Boeing declined to comment, instead directing inquiries to the airline.

"Delta Flight 982 ATL/BOG was taxiing for departure when a nose gear tire came loose from the landing gear," Delta said in a statement Wednesday.

"All customers and their bags were removed from the aircraft, transferred to the gate and onto a replacement aircraft. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience."

The plane was put back into service the next day, Delta said.

An aviation enthusiast who was at the airport filmed the plane standing on the runway waiting to be towed away.

According to an online record of the plane's history, it has been active since 1992.

The Atlanta airport holds the title of the world's busiest, with more than 93 million passengers a year, according to data from Airports Council International. Dallas Forth-Worth comes in at second with 73 million.

The news comes at a tough time for Boeing, one of the world's leading airline makers, weeks after a panel on an Alaska Airlines flight blew out midflight, prompting the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes nationwide and an ongoing investigation.

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci told NBC News on Tuesday that an internal investigation had found that "many" Max 9 planes were found to have loose bolts.

Another Boeing plane, a 747 cargo jet, was seen spewing flames into the sky over Miami last week.