Flybe plane’s wheel falls off during take-off

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 The airline said the wheel fell off during “retraction” which occurs when wheels are withdrawn into the aircraft after take off.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.”

First scheduled Boeing 777F cargo operation, London Stansted

London Stansted has become home to one of the world’s most modern cargo aircraft as FedEx Express unveiled its new B777F aircraft at its Stansted hub yesterday (28 February 2011).

The new jet, which will operate on the Stansted to Memphis route, brings significant environmental benefits including lower noise levels and reduced emissions compared to the three engine MD-11 it replaces, and is part of FedEx Express’s sustainability efforts to reduce its global footprint.

Speaking at a ceremony held by FedEx Express to celebrate the occasion, London Stansted Airport’s managaing director, Nick Barton said:

“At Stansted we’re committed to improving our environmental and operational performance so we welcome the arrival of FedEx’s new B777F, one of the world’s most modern air freight carriers. With lower noise and emission levels than the MD11 it replaces, this investment will also be welcome news to the communities around the airport.

“Having obtained Code F status for the next generation aircraft to operate on our runway, and as the only major London Airport with capacity for growth, we’re delighted FedEx Express selected its Stansted hub as a base for one of their new B777F aircraft.

“As well as the environmental benefits, the new aircraft boosts freight capacity, which is very exciting news for industry and business around the region who rely on FedEx operations here at Stansted.”

The arrival of the new freighter is part of an on-going upgrade of the FedEx fleet, strengthening the company’s commitment to the environment and efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

FedEx Express Senior Vice President Operations, David Binks commented:

“The launch of the new aircraft at London Stansted is an important step in our long-term commitment of being a responsible corporate citizen both in the UK and around the globe, including many ISO14001-certified FedEx facilities like London Stansted. We have applied our long-standing spirit of innovation to a decade-long effort to reduce energy and fuel usage, increase energy efficiency, and put to use technologies that will change the future of our industry.

“Global demand for air cargo and express services continues to grow rapidly and FedEx Express has made significant investments in our network to meet customers’ needs and fulfil our business objectives. The environmental efficiencies of this new aircraft, coupled with its attractive payload range and economics, makes the B777F the best choice for FedEx Express and its customers.”

Airline takes first delivery of 22 new planes at East Midlands Airport today

The world’s largest holiday airline, Thomson Airways, has begun the biggest charter fleet overhaul in British aviation history today (Wednesday 2nd February) with the first of its 22 new Boeing Next-Generation 737-800s flying into East Midlands airport.

The delivery signals the start of the upgrade of a third of Thomson Airways’ fleet and the airline will receive four of the 22 aircraft by this summer, with all 22 delivered by the summer of 2013.

Thomson Airways estimates that around 1.5 million customers will benefit from the upgrade during the summer of 2013. The airline currently takes 5.5 million customers away on holiday each year from regional airports across the country.

Thomson Airways new 737s will offer savings in both fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. The latest generation aircraft that Thomson Airways will fly compares very favourably to the model it is replacing by offering a fuel-efficiency improvement of 15% created by engine improvements and a reduction in surface drag.

The Next Generation 737-800s features the new Boeing Sky Interior. Customers will enjoy a spacious new look with modern sculpted side walls and cove ceilings, larger overhead stow bins and a quieter cabin. Long lasting LED reading lights are brighter, and crew will use new technology to create the sunrise and sunset of the customer’s destination.

The four aircraft due for delivery this year will primarily fly out of Bournemouth, Doncaster, Luton and East Midlands over the winter months and will also fly some routes from Manchester and Gatwick over the summer.

The overhaul is part of a wider programme by Thomson Airways to upgrade its fleet, which includes taking delivery of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners from 2012.

Chris Browne, Thomson Airways Managing Director, says: “This latest investment in the new 737-800 next generation aircraft allows us to further enhance our customer’s holiday experiences and comes at a time when other airlines are cutting back. This demonstrates our commitment to offering British holidaymakers a great onboard experience from their local airport.”

The new generation Boeing 737-800s will be operated on short/medium haul routes and will be configured to allow seating for 189 passengers in standard class.