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N924ME accident description

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Crash location 42.364167°N, 71.005000°W
Nearest city Boston, MA
42.358431°N, 71.059773°W
2.8 miles away
Tail number N924ME
Accident date 20 Dec 2005
Aircraft type Boeing 717-200
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On December 20, 2005, at 1941 eastern standard time, a Boeing 717-200, N924ME, operated by Midwest Airlines Inc., as flight 210, incurred minor damage during a takeoff from General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, Massachusetts. The airplane returned to the airport, and landed without incident at 2153. There were no injuries to the 2 certificated airline transport pilots, 2 flight attendants, and 87 passengers. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was destined for General Mitchell International Airport (MKE), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the scheduled domestic flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 121.

During the takeoff from runway 22R, air traffic controllers observed sparks coming from the rear of the airplane, and shortly thereafter, the pilot reported a problem with the right main landing gear and gear door, with the landing gear in the retracted position. The airplane circled for about an hour and a half to burn fuel, and the captain subsequently performed an uneventful landing on runway 33L. The airplane was then towed to the gate, and the passengers deplaned normally.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the number 4 wheel bearing failed, and the wheel race was welded to the axle. The remaining races and bearings were fragmented and separated from the wheel.

The remaining three wheels were examined, and approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of water was observed inside the number 1 wheel hubcap. Additionally, the grease inside the hubcap appeared "heavily diluted." The number 2 and number 3 wheel hubcaps also contained "slight traces" of water.

At the time of the incident, the airplane had accrued approximately 233 cycles and 425 hours since delivery from Boeing. According to the operator, the wheel and tire had not been removed since delivery.

A similar incident occurred on February 22, 2004, involving another B-717-200, N919ME; however, due to the catastrophic damage to the tire and bearings, it could not be determined whether or not water was present.

As a result of the incident involving N924ME, Boeing surveyed a majority of the B-717 operators for water in the wheels. The operators that responded reported finding no fluid of any type; however, as a precautionary measure, Boeing incorporated a hubcap gasket to prevent moisture from becoming trapped in the wheels.

NTSB Probable Cause

Water dilution of the grease, which resulted in the failure of the number 4 wheel bearing.

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