A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 jet carrying 462 people was forced to make an emergency landing at London’s Gatwick airport on Monday after its landing gear failed to properly deploy.
The plane was en route to Las Vegas when a technical problem was discovered with its landing gear, forcing it to circle the airport while the ground crew tried to inspect the fault.
Distraught passengers were asked to adopt the brace position before the plane made an emergeny landing with only three quarters of its landing gear down.
Passengers, several of whom suffered minor injuries, hailed the plane’s pilot as a hero after he successfully eased the jet down Gatwick’s single runway.
There was a spontaneous round of applause after the successful landing.
One passenger described the mood as “anxious”.
“A lot were worried, some crying,” said the passenger, Dan Crane.
Gatwick Airport’s single runway was temporarily closed because of the incident, a spokesman said.
“I can’t wait to get into the terminal and have a gin and tonic now,” Mike Kaufman, a passenger, told Sky News television.
“We were talking about going on a rollercoaster ride when we got to Las Vegas. Now I’m not so sure,” he said.
Fire crews and ambulances quickly surrounded the aircraft, which appeared completely level.
“Following the emergency landing, passengers have disembarked the aircraft via stairs. At this time, only minor injuries have been reported,” a Gatwick spokesman said.
Virgin Atlantic said the plane had been forced “to implement a non-standard landing procedure” due to “a technical issue with one of the landing gears”.
Virgin founder Richard Branson congratulated his crew on the feat, tweeting: “Well done @virginatlantic pilots & team for safe & skillful landing of #VS43. Thoughts with passengers & crew, thanks for support & patience.”