Plane in S. Africa catches fire, no injuries

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A chartered Boeing MD-82 airplane aborted its takeoff Tuesday in South Africa after a landing gear caught fire when its tire came off its mount, officials said. No one was injured.

The Global Aviation Operations Ltd. flight was attempting to leave O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg when one of its pilots saw the landing gear on fire, said Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, a spokeswoman for the Airports Company South Africa. The pilot halted the takeoff and stopped the plane on one of the runways at South Africa's busiest airport, temporarily closing it. The flight's destination was the southern African nation of Malawi.

Rescuers and emergency workers quickly surrounded the plane which had 106 people on board, Batyashe-Fillis said. The plane had been bound for Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, she said.

Global Aviation Operations, which flies charter flights throughout Africa, blamed the fire on a "tire separation."

The McDonnell Douglas MD-82, a jet aircraft often used by airlines for middle-distance flights, is a model owned by Boeing Co. McDonnell Douglas had stopped production of all but one of the models in the series when Boeing bought its smaller rival in 1997, and it closed down that line two years later to focus on newer models of its own popular midrange jet, the 737.

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Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .

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