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ATW Editor's Blog

Virgin Atlantic makes textbook landing with faulty landing gear


Despite the grim news of AirAsia Indonesia QZ8501, still missing, there is other airline news that points to the bigger picture of how safe and professional the global air transportation system is today.

I’m talking about the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 operating flight VS43 from London Gatwick to Las Vegas. It experienced a main landing gear malfunction after takeoff.

From all reports – from the airline, emergency crews on the ground and those onboard – the Virgin crew handled the event in highly professional, textbook fashion. After circling southern England to burn off fuel and trying repeatedly to loosen the problematic landing gear, the crew prepared everyone for an emergency landing back at Gatwick. There are passenger reports of the flight crew keeping everyone informed and of some cabin crew staying in the main cabin to reassure people.

Finally, with all preparations in place, the 747 pilots made a gentle touchdown and all 447 passengers and 15 crew was returned safe and well. Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson tweeted, “Well done @VirginAtlantic pilots & team for safe & skilful landing of #VS43. Thoughts with passengers & crew, thanks for support & patience.”

Here’s a link to BBC video of the landing. Nice work!

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