Virgin Atlantic Plane Makes Gatwick Emergency Landing

December 29, 2014 Updated: December 31, 2014

LONDON—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’s only runway was closed for more than three hours, until about 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EDT) as the Virgin plane was inspected. Departing flights were suspended, and inbound planes were diverted to other airports.

The airport said in a statement that it would “take some time” for normal service to resume.

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.

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing passenger jet performs an emergency landing at Gatwick Airport after developing a landing gear fault, London, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. The airline says the plane undertook "a non-standard landing procedure" because of "a technical issue with one of the landing gears." (AP Photo/PA, Gareth Fuller)
A Virgin Atlantic Boeing passenger jet performs an emergency landing at Gatwick Airport after developing a landing gear fault, London, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. The airline says the plane undertook “a non-standard landing procedure” because of “a technical issue with one of the landing gears.” (AP Photo/PA, Gareth Fuller)

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.”

From The Associated Press