Northwest Flight Diverted

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Northwest Airlines flight traveling from Minneapolis to Bozeman, Mont., on Wednesday was diverted to Billings because of a mechanical problem.

An airline spokesman said the hydraulic problem was not linked to the strike by Northwest mechanics and maintenance workers that began Saturday.

The Airbus A320 with 136 passengers landed at Billings Logan International Airport. Passengers used portable stairs to exit the plane. No one was hurt.

"We heard this flapping noise," said passenger Kathee McCafferty of Traverse City, Mich. "The captain came on the intercom and said we were having hydraulic problems."

She said passengers began hearing unusual noises about half an hour before the plane touched down.

Nonunion replacement workers have been providing aircraft maintenance since 4,430 mechanics, cleaners and other members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Assn. went on strike over $176 million in pay and benefit cuts that the airline had demanded.

Kurt Ebenhoch, a Northwest Airlines spokesman from Minneapolis, described the problem on Flight 1271 as a "hydraulic issue," but declined to be more specific. He said such problems crop up periodically.