As has been widely reported around the world today, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 operating as flight VS43 bound for Las Vegas airport returned to London Gatwick after part of its landing gear failed to retract properly after take-off.
The aircraft made what Virgin Atlantic referred to as a non-standard landing after dumping fuel to reduce the landing weight of the aircraft. The aircraft landed safely at London Gatwick without the entirety of its landing gear fully extended. The aircraft remained on the runway at London Gatwick and passengers were safely escorted from the aircraft.
The incident was covered live in the UK on the BBC News channel and Sky News. Perhaps in part due to it being a relatively quiet period for news and recent aviation incidents, the incident attracted quite sensational coverage around the world (let’s not get started on CNN’s abominal coverage of Air Asia flight QZ8501!). The unfolding nature of the story lends itself to coverage on the rolling news channels and tales of instant heroism and, in their eyes, narrowly averted disaster, also play well in tabloid media.
Whilst this was no trivial incident and it must have been a source of distress for some passengers, considerable comfort should be taken from the fact that the crew were clearly well trained and prepared to handle such an incident.