By LEONARD GREENE and PHILIP MESSING, New York Post
Last Updated: 9:18 AM, February 28, 2012
A jetliner carrying 71 people wound up landing on its nose at Newark Liberty International Airport last night after its front wheel failed to deploy.
No one aboard the flight from Atlanta was hurt.
“We just thought it was the end,’’ passenger Steve Parowski told the Star Ledger of Newark.
“I just sent a text to my sons letting them know that I loved them and I hoped everything worked out.’’
As soon as he got off the plane, he sent another text:
“I landed and I’m alive.’’
Cockpit instruments had indicated that there was a problem with the gear.
That was confirmed by controllers when the plane flew past the tower.
“The nose gear is not down,’’ a controller told the pilot, according to paper. “You got no nose gear.’’
Parowski, who lives in Franklin Lakes, told the Ledger passengers were alerted to the impending rough landing when the plane was still about 45 minutes out.
He said the tense minutes before the 6:20 p.m. landing were spent circling the area — including the airport, where passengers saw emergency vehicles waiting — as the crew provided emergency instructions.
The airport shut down as fire and other rescue crews raced to the runway when the Brazilian-made Embraer 170 touched down and came to a halt with the pilot holding the nose in the air for as long as possible.
Then the nose dropped to the runway, Parowski said, and ground crews sprayed the plane with foam to prevent a fire.
The plane filled with acrid smoke and the passengers were ordered to exit using emergency inflatable chutes.
But at least one passenger was amazingly blasé about the scary situation.
“I’ve had rougher landings than that,’’ Angela Nickerson of Seattle, told the Star Ledger.
The plane, operated by United Shuttle Air Express, carried 67 passengers and four crew members.
Two of the airport’s runways were shut as a precaution, authorities said, but were reopened within an hour.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate.
The problem was believed to be with the plane’s hydraulics.
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