El Al jet makes emergency landing after landing gear glitch

Boeing 777 carrying 279 passengers en route to Newark is forced to make emergency landing after technical fault found in wheel.

May 23, 2011 05:44
2 minute read.
An El Al plane taxiing down the runway

311_el al plane. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A US-bound El Al Boeing 777 with some 270 passengers on board was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning at Ben- Gurion Airport after a problem was found with one of its landing gear.

A pilot on El Al flight 027 to Newark, New Jersey, noticed that one of the left main wheels had become jammed after takeoff late Sunday night. A state of emergency was declared at the airport due to concerns the plane would experience difficulties while landing.

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Ben Gurion Airport resumes normal fueling procedures
Ben Gurion planes refueling from emergency reserves

A state of emergency was announced at the airport overnight Sunday due to fears that the plane would experience difficulties during the landing.

After the 777 circled above the Mediterranean for three hours waiting for daybreak, the pilot jettisoned fuel to avoid a possible fire upon landing.

Israel Air Force jets were deployed to examine the aircraft up close and help determine the problem, but also to ensure that it was not security- related.

Over 70 Magen David Adom rescue teams as well as police and fire crews were brought out, but the landing was accomplished without complications.

“We had enough fuel that we weren’t rushing, and as we flew over the sea we prepared for every possible scenario, including the worst, in which the wheel collapses during landing,” flight captain Dudi Kent told Army Radio.

“Even if the wheel hadn’t worked, it would have been possible to land on two wheels – it’s not a nice feeling but that doesn’t make it dangerous,” he said.

The pilot said the passengers were calm and that a number of them slept until the landing.

At least one passenger, however, gave a different account.

“I had my three-year-old son sitting on my knees, and the worst thoughts go through your head,” the passenger told Army Radio Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the pilots had performed “perfectly” and in a manner “worthy of admiration.”

El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi also had praise for the way the situation was handled. “The passengers were calm and behaved commendably,” he said.

“The pilot informed us what was happening at every stage. We also consulted with authorities overseas in order to make a decision. This event took me back to my days at the air force command post, but it certainly helps for there to be an experienced pilot.”

Later in the day, a technical problem nearly grounded a second El Al plane when a flight to Moscow was delayed for nearly three hours after a technical problem was detected in one of its landing gear. Three hours later the problem was fixed and the flight took off.

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