An Air Canada Boeing 767 aircraft with 128 passengers on board has made a safe emergency landing at Madrid Airport.
The Toronto-bound flight AC837 had departed from the Spanish capital in the early afternoon on Monday – but had to request an emergency return after one of its two engines was damaged and a tire ruptured during takeoff.
There was no immediate information on what had caused the malfunctioning, but the plane spent close to four hours flying in circles near Madrid to burn off fuel before making the emergency landing.
Spain’s Defence Ministry earlier dispatched an F-18 fighter jet to evaluate the damage done to the landing gear.
The passenger aircraft had departed from the Adolfo Suarez-Barajas international airport earlier in the day and was scheduled to land in Toronto at 3:40pm local time (20:40 GMT).
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, the airline said the plane “experienced an engine issue shortly after take-off” as well as a ruptured tire – one of 10 on the Boeing 767-300. It added that the aircraft “is designed to operate on one engine and our pilots are fully trained for this eventuality.”
“Nonetheless, an emergency was declared in order to obtain landing priority,” Air Canada said.
A spokeswoman with Spain’s airport operator, AENA, told the AP that the airline had requested a slot for an emergency landing some 30 minutes after takeoff.
A spokesman for Enaire, Spain’s air navigation authority, said the plane’s landing gear did not fold up properly on taking off, and that a piece of it may have damaged part of one of the engines.
Emergency services including firefighting trucks and ambulances were deployed at the Spanish capital’s airport.
Spain’s El Mundo newspaper’s website published audio it said featured the plane’s pilot explaining to the passengers the need to return to Madrid because a wheel had been damaged during the takeoff.
“Because we are a bit too heavy we have to get rid of fuel before being able to land,” the voice can be heard saying in Spanish.
Madrid residents posted videos online showing a plane flying unusually low over the Spanish capital’s centre and suburbs.
Guido Fioravantti, from New York, in a message to the AP, said his father was on the plane.
“The cabin is very calm and collected. Pilots train for this a lot, so no reason to panic. It’s also more common than many people would think,” Fioravantti said.
It was the second incident of the day at Madrid’s international airport, the busiest in the country. Earlier on Monday, the airport closed for over an hour due to the reported sighting of drones in the vicinity.