An investigation has been launched after a Flybe aircraft lost a wheel forcing a dramatic emergency landing.
The Flybe Bombardier Q 400 was forced to turn back to Exeter International Airport, Devon, shortly after departing when a wheel underneath the wing came off during “retraction”.
Thirty-nine petrified passengers and the four crew on board the flight bound for Newcastle International Airport all escaped serious injury.
Shortly after taking off the wheel detached from the under carriage, the pilot raised the alarm and a police helicopter was deployed. Roads around the airport has to be closed and traffic diverted in the midst of fears the plane could crash.
After circling Exeter for 90 minutes the plane re-landed after over two hours in the air.
The passengers were taken back to the departure lounge at Exeter Airport to recover from the incident and took a rescheduled flight later that day. The airline said the wheel fell off during “retraction” which occurs when wheels are withdrawn into the aircraft after take off.
The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch has launched an investigation to find out what caused the wheel to come off.
Flybe has also launched its own internal investigation.
“Flybe can confirm that the flight (BE 703) returned to Exeter from airborne following an incident during take-off from Exeter International Airport that necessitated the airport putting emergency vehicles on standby,” he said.
“The Q400 aircraft was operating a flight from Exeter to Newcastle with 39 passengers and four crew on board when, on retraction, one of the wheels detached itself on to the runway.”
“The aircraft landed safely without further incident, all passengers left the aircraft as normal by means of the aircraft steps and will be re-accommodated on the next available flight.”
He added: “Flybe operates the world’s largest fleet of Q400 with 58 aircraft with an average age of 4.1 years that safely operate over 100,000 flights a year.”