A Virgin Atlantic plane from London Gatwick to Las Vegas had to make an abrupt return in mid-flight to Gatwick airport after the pilot discovered a problem with one of its main landing gear. The Virgin flight VS43 took off with 447 passengers and 15 crew members at 11:30 GMT on Monday December 29th 2014. Following the discovery of the problem, the pilot had to carry out a non-standard landing procedure, according to the airport, to ensure safe landing of the flight. This meant that the airport had to delay inbound and outbound flights to ensure that the flight landed safely.
Burned fuel to lighten load for safe landing
The 13-year old Boeing 747 had a problem with one of the main landing gear, which meant it had to land on three instead of four of the landing gear. To ensure the safe landing, the weight of the plane had to be reduced, for which the pilot had to burn fuel by circling around the airport. The flight had to fly over southern England including Devon and Sussex for several hours to burn fuel and become light enough to land on three of its four landing gears safely. As the flight had to circle the airport, Gatwick airport authorities had to close the runway. To deal with the emergency, the airport diverted several flights and had to delay the outbound flights.
32 flights delayed
A total of 12 incoming flights into the Gatwick airport had to be diverted to other airports in the region, while 32 of the outbound flights scheduled to depart from Gatwick had to be delayed until after the flight’s emergency landing had been completed. Normal services at the airport resumed, but only after a few gruelling hours for the authorities as well the airlines. Passengers who had to deal with delays were advised to check with rescheduling of the flights and refunds with the airlines.
The airport had cooperated with the airline companies to provide food, drink and other facilities for passengers stranded in the airport due to the delays and cancellations. Airlines who encountered delays to their flights had to deal with flight delay compensation and refunds due to the severe delays that were caused by the problem with the Virgin flight.
Passengers safe, but panicked during landing
Virgin may also have to deal with flight delay compensation and refunds, owing to the problem with its flight VS43. According to the passengers, the crew had been very supportive and did their best to maintain an atmosphere of calm inside the plane. They had served drinks, water and kept assuring the passengers that all would be okay. However, some passengers panicked as the landing became bumpy. The captain and the crew were lauded for their efforts in ensuring that the passengers were safe during the tricky landing procedure, which involved the pilots repeatedly trying to release the landing gear.
After the landing, passengers were taken to a hotel and placed on later flights to Las Vegas.