Airplanes are incredibly complex machines with a countless number of parts, and sometimes things go wrong. However, this is an odd one…
In this post:
Delta Boeing 757 loses wheel before takeoff in Atlanta
This incident happened on Saturday, January 20, 2024, and involves Delta flight DL982, which was scheduled to fly from Atlanta (ATL) to Bogota (BOG). The flight was operated by a 31-year-old Boeing 757-200 with the registration code N672DL.
The aircraft had been cleared to taxi into position on runway 27R, as it awaited takeoff clearance. However, while taxiing onto the runway, one of the wheels of the nose gear separated from the aircraft, and rolled into a nearby embankment.
VASAviation has an excellent recreation of the incident, featuring both a depiction of what happened, plus the air traffic control audio.
As you can hear, another Delta pilot reports that “the 75 on the runway just lost the nose tire,” to which the Delta pilot on this aircraft responds “thanks for that, sounds like we got a problem.”
Following this incident, the pilots of the Delta jet contacted maintenance, and they had to come out to the runway to tow the aircraft. The runway ended up remaining closed for a few hours, as this whole process took quite some time.
You’ve also gotta love how a moment after this incident, the pilot of one of the Southwest jets in the takeoff queue gets impatient, and asks about being rerouted to another runway. Of course I can appreciate his desire to maintain an on-time schedule, but you can at least give them a couple of minutes.
Kudos to the air traffic controller for how he responds, firmly yet respectfully — “we’re in the process, there’s a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, give me a second.”
Delta ended up getting another aircraft for those traveling from Atlanta to Bogota. It’s interesting to see how quickly the aircraft involved in this incident reentered service. The following morning, the jet flew from Atlanta to San Juan and back, so I guess they got the wheel situation repaired quickly. However, the plane hasn’t flown in the past 36 hours, so I’m curious if that’s just because Delta doesn’t need it, or if some other issue was discovered.
What could cause this wheel incident?
I think what’s most interesting about this incident is when the wheel disconnected from the aircraft. In the past we’ve sometimes seen wheel issues during a problematic landing or at a high speed, but it’s certainly unusual to see a wheel just disconnect from an aircraft while it’s taxiing onto a runway at a low speed.
Was the wheel somehow just how secured correctly, did the plane have some incident on a previous flight that caused this, or what? Oh, wait, no… I think I’m just supposed to assume that DEI must be to blame, right? Am I doing that right?
I would joke that I’m not surprised there are issues like this given Delta’s average fleet age, as there are often more maintenance incidents with older aircraft. However, given how Boeing is doing with its newer aircraft, I’m not sure that can really be said anymore. Better to lose a nose wheel on the ground than part of the fuselage in the air, eh?
A Delta Boeing 757 lost a nose wheel while it was taxiing onto the runway at Atlanta Airport. Thank goodness that this was discovered before the plane took off, since it’s always easier to deal with an issue when you’re on the ground and traveling at a low speed.
Delta fixed this aircraft within hours, and it’s already back in service.
What do you make of this Delta Boeing 757 incident?