Monday, December 29, 2014

Virgin Atlantic 747-400 Emergency Landing at London Gatwick

By Benjamin Bearup / Published December 29, 2014 / Updated with video 3:20pm EST

Virgin Atlantic Flight 43, a Boeing 747-400 flying from London Gatwick to Las Vegas, experienced a landing gear malfunction shortly after takeoff from Gatwick. According to photos from the ground, it appeared that the right “wing gear” jammed and would not lower. The right “wing gear” are the four wheels furthest to the right on the 747.

Upon discovering this problem, Flight 43 traveled west and entered a holding pattern near the Bristol Channel south of Wales. After four circles in the holding pattern at 32,000 feet, it returned to London Gatwick to perform a low pass to examine the gears condition. Upon completing the low pass, it became clear to ATC and photo journalist on the ground that the rightmost gear would not lower.

Flight Radar 24 live map following flight 43 / Photo FlightRadar 24

Flight Radar 24 live map following flight 43 / Photo FlightRadar 24

The aircraft then re-entered a holding pattern south of Gatwick at 2,275 feet in order to burn additional fuel to decrease its landing weight and allow emergency vehicles to prepare for its arrival. After holding, the aircraft once again completed a low pass to confirm that the rightmost gear was still jammed and unable to lower.

Virgin Atlantic flight 43 completes a low pass at London Gatewick Airport / Photo Phil Wagner

Virgin Atlantic flight 43 completes a low pass at London Gatewick Airport / Photo Phil Wagner

With the confirmation the crew needed, Virgin Atlantic 43 for the third time entered a holding pattern to prepare for the emergency landing. At around 10:48AM Eastern Standard Time word quickly spread on social media and live on new channels such as the BBC that Flight 43 performed a perfect emergency landing and no damage occurred on touchdown. Flight 43 was immediately met by emergency vehicles and remained on Gatwick’s single runway after landing putting other inbound planes into a holding pattern.

Virgin Atlantic aircraft G-VROM shortly after emergency landing at Gatewick. / Photo BBC News

Virgin Atlantic aircraft G-VROM shortly after emergency landing at Gatewick. / Photo BBC News

Virgin Atlantic Flight 43 was operated by aircraft G-VROM. This aircraft was delivered to Virgin Atlantic in May of 2001 and is leased from GECAS. From November of 2009 to early 2012 the aircraft was operated by the former Bolivian carrier AeroSur. It reentered the Virgin Atlantic fleet in March of 2012 under the name Barbarella.

Video and ATC recording of landing

 

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Contact the author at benjaminbearup@gmail.com

Slider Image Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

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