NTSB Identification: CHI03IA027.
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Scheduled 14 CFR (D.B.A. United Air LInes)
Incident occurred Thursday, November 21, 2002 in Chicago, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2004
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A319-131, registration: N804UA
Injuries: 82 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

The airplane landed with the nose wheels turned 90 degrees to the direction of travel. The flight crew was unable to retract the landing gear after takeoff. They received the L/G SHOCK ABSORBER FAULT and AUTO FLT A/THR OFF messages on the electronic centralized aircraft monitoring (ECAM) system. In addition, they had a Nose Wheel Steering message on the landing gear ECAM page. Unable to rectify the problem, the captain elected to return to land at ORD. The captain reported that he did not have any problem controlling the airplane during the landing. During the landing roll, he was informed by the control tower that there were sparks coming from the nose gear. The airplane stopped on the runway and the passengers were deplaned. Post-incident inspection revealed the nose landing gear (NLG) wheels were turned 90 degrees to the left, both of the tires were blown, and the left side tire rim was ground down to the axle. The right side tire rim was nearly ground down to the axle. The incident occurred on the fourth flight following a maintenance "C" check where the dynamic seals inside the nose landing gear (NLG) shock absorber had been replaced. The maintenance was performed by a contract facility. Inspection and teardown of the nose gear revealed the shock absorber had been assembled and installed in the airplane incorrectly during the C-check. This resulted in the anti-rotation lugs on the shock absorber, not being properly seated in the back plate slots. Following this incident, the back plate manufacturer has redesigned the back plate (waiting manufacturer and DGAC approval), the operator has revised their job instruction cards for disassembly and assembly of the NLG shock absorber, and the aircraft manufacturer has revised the Aircraft Maintenance Manual.






The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident to be:

The maintenance facililty improperly assembled and installed the nose landing gear shock absorber assembly. Factors were the improper assembly which allowed the nose gear to turn 90 degrees to the direction of travel.

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