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My exciting RW UA 777 flight KIAD-EGLL

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A couple of weeks ago, I boarded a customarily crammed late evening UA 777 at KIAD for EGLL. We departed the gate for takeoff but on the way to rwy 30, the captain announced there was a small problem with the nosewheel not working right. We turned back to the apron area for a visual inspection that lasted 5-8 mins. and then turned around and trundled back to rwy 30. Spool-up for takeoff was long and tentative--the last time such a spool up occurred I was on a UA 767 at KSFO and the takeoff was aborted half way down the runway because of failing engine indicators--but finally he hit the TO/GA button. We started down the runway but an instant later lurched to a crawl as N1 was spooled down and we rolled to the first runway turnoff and headed back to the terminal building.ATC asked the captain if he wanted to keep the flightplan open and the reply was yes. We docked at the gate and there was a lot of head scratching for some time and we had drinks and hung out in the cabin. I chatted by the open door with a very nice cabin attendant who told me she'd been jump seating and all the alarms went off during the aborted takeoff and the captain said he'd never seen anything like this problem.An hour or so later, at about midnight, captain announced it was fixed and we headed back from a very deserted apron to an even more deserted rwy 30 to try again.He applied TO/GA power and we raced down the runway, lifting off normally. The instant the nosewheel left the ground, I turned to a seatmate and said "Well, I don't care if the nosewheel falls off now 'cos at least I know the next stop is London !"7 hours later, on final approach into EGLL 9L, the captain lined up for the TD. At about the time we crossed the fence, I observed a steeper pitch up than normal in the 777--usually, it is barely perceptible from within the cabin--and he put her on the mains perfectly and softly, holding the nose up all the way down the runway as he reversed instantly after the mains touched down. Finally, after closing the reversers, and losing a lot of speed, he gently lowered the nose (or the elevator authority failed) at what seemed almost like walking speed, and we turned off to taxi back.I thought this was a very impressive approach and landing, figuring the captain still didn't feel entirely confident that the nosewheel was functioning completely normally.I think I felt less nervous than I might have done partly because of my years of sim experience although I have to say that when I thought about a nosewheel going askew at V1 in a 777 when we re-docked back at KIAD, I did kind of shudder. I'd rather lose an engine on takeoff than lose the nosewheel, any day. Kudos to the UA aircrew for their good work in terms of good communications, providing comforts, and caring generally throughout the time on the ground and in the air. That was the real diff and made the whole flight very nice even though we were 2+ hours late after a long day and night.JS

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Wow, a bit of excitment there.I think that good communication is essential. I was on a MyTravel (or possibly First Choice) flight coming home from Turkey a while ago. The flight was an hour late, when we finally boarded our plane, an A320, was sitting on the apron, with two fire trucks parked next to it. the Captain and a few firemen was standing looking into the engine. We boarded, and the cabin was almost silent. No explanation was given, the captain just announced that he would not be talking much and that he would try his best to make up time (also that weather over Gatwick was poor...) Having no comments about the delay or presence of emergancy vehicles did not help to calm the nerves of some pax!However the flight crew were great, we made up time, only to be delayed at the gate because there were no ramp staff there!Dave

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