WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal investigators are looking at whether a wire brush left under the cockpit floor of a United Airlines Boeing 737 led to a rudder problem that caused the plane to suddenly bank while descending into Chicago last week.
United Airlines spokesman Chris Brathwaite confirmed the brush was found in the cockpit area but declined to say how it got there.
He said the company is cooperating with investigators to determine whether the brush caused the problem on the Dec. 13 flight from St. Louis to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which also is looking into the matter, believes the brush was left behind by a mechanic and jammed the rudder cables, spokesman John Mazor told The Seattle Times.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Paul Schlamm said investigators have not drawn any conclusions.
``The investigation is still continuing on many fronts,'' he said Thursday.
The pilots flying United's Flight 578 reported the plane's nose suddenly swung to the left and right when the aircraft began descending at around 9,000 feet. The pilots disconnected the autopilot and the plane then banked sharply. They had to apply pressure on the rudder pedals to level the wings and regain control.
The plane landed safely and all 93 passengers got off without incident.
The rudder is the flap on the vertical tail of the aircraft. Moving the rudder left or right causes the plane to turn in that direction.
Rudder problems on 737s are suspected in two deadly U.S. air crashes in the early 1990s. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed requiring airlines to install new rudder control systems on 737s, the world's most popular commercial jet.
Doesn't look like the other hardovers...