easyJet plane drama in skies of Belfast as rescue services are scrambled for emergency landing
Passengers tell of firefighters swarming around their aircraft
Published 19/11/2013 | 09:49
A passenger jet flying to Belfast from England was at the centre of an emergency incident on Monday night.
Passengers on easyJet flight EZY267 from London Stansted last night told how the aircraft circled over Lough Neagh and Belfast several times before coming to land.
The Airbus A319 managed to land safely at Belfast International Airport at around 9.10pm with no injuries reported.
Passengers described the airport as "swarming with emergency services".
One passenger in the front row of the plane told the Belfast Telegraph that the flight had been early and started its descent into Belfast at 8.50pm, but at that point the pilot announced that there was a technical issue and landing would be delayed.
The plane circled Belfast for around 20 minutes. But after landing the passengers sat in the plane for 45 minutes before it was towed away.
"The cabin itself was pretty calm throughout, there were maybe a few glances exchanged but no panic," the passenger said.
"The landing was fairly normal, maybe slightly bumpy, but when we got on the runway we were sitting there for around 45 minutes because of what they said was an issue with the steering on the front wheel and we would be getting towed.
"Then there was a second announcement that because there was hydraulic fluid leaking, they didn't want to contaminate the other runway."
The man eventually made it out of the plane and back to his car just after 10pm.
It is understood that the problem related to landing equipment, but the plane will undergo a full examination by engineers to determine exactly what happened.
Andrew McConnell, easyJet's Head of UK Corporate and Public Affairs, confirmed there had been a technical issue with the plane.
"EasyJet can confirm that flight EZY267 from Stansted to Belfast International experienced a technical issue," he said.
"The aircraft landed safely and was met by emergency services as a routine and precautionary measure only. Once at its stand all passengers disembarked normally.
"The safety of its passengers and crew is easyJet's highest priority and easyJet operates its fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all manufacturers' guidelines."
Police described what happened as an "emergency incident" but said the matter was resolved.
A spokeswoman for Belfast International said emergency services were called as a precautionary measure and the flight landed without any problem.
The airport continued to operate normally throughout the incident.
One of the last emergency landings at Belfast International Airport happened in February 2012 when a holiday jet carrying 175 people made an emergency landing at Aldergrove after its wheels failed to retract on take-off.
The Thomas Cook Airbus A320, which had been bound for Tenerife, returned to Belfast International after developing the problem with its undercarriage.
It had been circling nearby Lough Neagh to burn fuel for an hour and a half before making a final descent.
Holidaymakers were instructed to brace themselves for an emergency landing, but the captain was able to bring the aircraft down safely.