Authorities have praised the actions of a trainee pilot who successfully landed his plane at Mangalore Airport after it lost a wheel shortly after take-off.By Sophie Malcolm
A trainee pilot made a ‘‘textbook’’ emergency landing when his plane lost one of its wheels after take-off yesterday.
The ordeal unfolded at Mangalore Airport where the trainee pilot, 21, circled the airport for more than four hours in an effort to burn enough fuel to attempt the landing.
Emergency crews including Country Fire Authority firefighters were on standby as the pilot safely landed the Piper Warrior just before 1.30
Firefighters poured foam on a runway to give the pilot a landing target and initially, to minimise the risk of fire once he touched down.
Seymour police Acting Senior Sergeant Clayton Munro said the ordeal began when one of the plane’s wheels fell off just after take-off.
Sen Sgt Munro said the student pilot took off on a routine navigational flight just after 9
‘‘Shortly after take-off, he realised that the right wheel .
‘‘He had approximately five hours of fuel in the aircraft, so we had plenty of time to formulate a plan with the CFA, SES and Ambulance Victoria and shortly after 1.15 (pm) he brought the aircraft safely down.’’
Sen Sgt Munro said the trainee, a student with about 120 hours flying experience, was relaxed throughout the flight.
The trainee is believed to be with China Southern Airlines.
‘‘The communications we had via the flying instructors, he was cool and calm and he was doing everything he was instructed to do,’’ he said.
‘‘The information we received was it could have done a number of things once it hit the ground.
‘‘As far as a crash landing’s concerned, he probably did a textbook landing.’’
Airport manager Joe Gagola said colleagues on the ground noticed something was trailing the plane before it was discovered it was a wheel hanging off the aircraft, which then fell off.
Mr Gagola said the pilot, who was the only person on board, was calm.
‘‘He made an emergency landing on two wheels and did an excellent job, where there was no injuries, no aircraft damage and it all ended well,’’ he said.
Mr Gagola said it was a rare event for a plane to lose a wheel mid-air and it had never happened before at the airport.
Sen Sgt Munro said emergency services had enough time for the landing.
‘‘Every contingency we could foresee, we put something in place to combat that, a lot of communication with the pilot was to what he had to do once the plane actually landed,’’ he said.
‘‘It was fairly evident right at the start it was going to be a crash landing.’’
Sgt Munro said the trainee was slightly shaken.
Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said paramedics assessed the pilot at the scene, but he did not require treatment or transport.
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