Newark Airport Emergency Landing: What Happens During a Belly Landing?
Above, a plane makes an emergency belly landing in Poland. A flight from Atlanta made a similar landing at Newark Monday night when landing gear wasn't working. Reuters

Many of the passengers on Flight 5124 feared for their lives Monday night when their plane made an emergency landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The airport was prepared, however, because the same type of emergency had happened before. The pilot was forced to do what was a belly landing--essentially the plane skids down the runway, without all of its wheels down, to a halt.

The United Shuttle Air Express jet from Atlanta was forced to land in the New Jersey City with the landing gear at the front of the plane not working properly. The plane slid down the runway until it stopped and all 69 passengers and four crew members, unharmed, escaped via emergency chutes.

We just thought it was the end, Steve Parowski told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. I just sent a text to my sons letting them know that I loved them, and I hoped everything worked out.

Everything did work out. Once the pilot realized that the wheels at the front end of the plane were not coming down, he flew by the air traffic control tower at a low altitude so the controller could see where the malfunctioning gear was, according to NBC New York.

That nose gear is not down, the pilot reportedly said. You got no nose gear...Door might have opened. Saw little bump.

The pilot then declared an official state of emergency and requested fire rescue.

Airport crews were sent to foam the pavement on the runway in preparation for the landing and air traffic control gave the pilot permission to land.

As the plane landed, nose dragging on the runway, airport crew and police surrounded the plane. Eventually emergency chutes were deployed and all people aboard slid to safety.

A similar situation occurred at Newark Liberty Airport about two years ago on Jan. 10, 2010, when United Airlines Flight 634 was forced to land with only two wheels in place.

With sparks flying from beneath the plane's underbelly, it landed straight and safely. Passengers said they were surprised at how smooth it was. What's a great landing? Moritz Loew, a 39-year-old passenger told The New York Times at the time. One that you walk away from.