OT Delta--Landing Gear Problem Shelves Jet

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A Delta Air Lines flight bound for Orlando, Fla., was forced to return to La Guardia Airport minutes after takeoff Sunday when the landing gear failed to retract, authorities said.

Smoke was later detected in the cabin, forcing an evacuation that left four passengers with minor injuries.

Delta Flight 1971, with 139 passengers and six crew members, took off at 8:30 a.m. but quickly returned because of the landing gear failure, landing without incident, said Port Authority spokesman Allen Morrison.

While on the runway, the pilot detected smoke in the cabin and decided to evacuate the aircraft, deploying the emergency chutes, Morrison said.

Four passengers suffered minor knee and back injuries during the evacuation, he said; none required hospitalization.

The plane, a Boeing 727, was immediately taken into maintenance to be examined, said Delta Air Lines spokeswoman Harmony Sockman.

The airport was closed for about 30 minutes and was reopened at 9:15 a.m., Morrison said.

(PROFILE CO:Delta Airlines; TS:DAL; IG:AIR;)

AP-NY-03-19-00 1439EST< 

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 19, 2000

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