Dec 29, 2014 11:08 AM
Virgin Atlantic plane in Gatwick emergency landing
The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) A Virgin Atlantic jet bound from London to Las Vegas turned back and made an emergency landing at Gatwick Airport on Monday after developing a problem with its landing gear.
The airline confirmed the Boeing 747-400, carrying 447 passengers and 15 crew members, landed safely about four hours after it took off. Television images showed the jet on the runway as fire trucks and ambulances waited nearby.
Gatwick said several passengers suffered minor injuries.
The incident caused major disruption to travelers. Gatwick said the airport's only runway would be closed until at least 6 p.m. (1 p.m. EST) as the Virgin plane was inspected. No flights were departing, and inbound flights were being diverted to other airports.
The airline said the plane undertook "a non-standard landing procedure" because of "a technical issue with one of the landing gears."
The airport said the flight, VS43, took off at about 11:45 a.m. Monday. Flight-tracking websites show it circled off the coast of southwest England before turning back to Gatwick, south of London. It circled near the airport, and photos appeared to show a set of wheels on its right-side landing gear had not fully descended.
Emergency services were on standby for the landing standard procedure when a plane has to land with a technical problem. The plane's emergency chutes were not deployed and passengers disembarked by stairs.
Passenger Mike Kaufman said the crew remained calm and professional throughout the four-hour crisis.
"Everybody gave the crew a big round of applause when we landed," he told Sky News from the plane. "I can't wait to get into the terminal and have a gin and tonic now."