An Air Canada flight had to make a heart-stopping emergency landing without a wheel yesterday. The Airbus A319 was heading into Toronto from New York when it was discovered that it no longer had one of its main landing wheels. The aircraft landed safely with all 120 passengers reported to be secure and well.
Assume the crash position
Air Canada flight AC715 was due to take off from New York’s La Guardia Airport at 14:10 local time yesterday. It pushed back just a few minutes late, at 14:32. Although takeoff appeared to be normal, the crew declared a mid-air emergency after one of its wheels was found to be missing.
Declaring an emergency gave the aircraft priority for landing at Toronto, and alerted emergency crews at the airport to be on standby for its arrival. While the plane landed safely in the end, it was a nerve-racking experience for the 120 passengers on board.
Update VIDEO LOST WHEEL Air Canada #AC715 from New York arrived safely in Toronto after losing a wheel (likely on departure at LGA) on their right main landing gear. Aircraft stopped on runway 23. Tow enroute. No injuries. 120 passengers & 5 crew. pic.twitter.com/uZK8Z4hYnX
— Tom Podolec Aviation (@TomPodolec) February 18, 2020
According to reports in the Toronto Sun, flight crew were unaware of just how badly damaged the landing gear was. As a result, they asked passengers to ‘assume the crash position’ as the aircraft came into land.
In a statement to the NYTimes, Air Canada said the aircraft had “experienced an issue with one of its six tires on take-off.” Thankfully, the other five tires seem to have held up, allowing the A319 to make a safe landing at Toronto. The incident aircraft is still on the ground in Toronto, but is expected to fly to Calgary tomorrow.
— cameron milne (@digitalcam123) February 18, 2020
Wheel not found
In an interesting move, the crew requested a flyby of Toronto’s air traffic control tower to confirm that the wheel was not in position. Flight Global reports that the ATC personnel told the pilots to “come as close to the southbound of the control tower as you can, give us a good look.”
The aircraft descended and passed the tower low and slow. The controllers were able to confirm that there was no outside right hand main gear wheel in place, saying that it “appears to be completely missing”.
The pilot then asked, “We do have one though, for sure there?”
The controller responded, “There’s one there, but can’t tell whether it’s inflated or not. But the other one is definitely not in situ.”
Amusingly, the pilot then said that the controllers must have some “pretty good binoculars,” to which the controllers said that it was quite easy to see the missing wheel.
The missing wheel has not been found as yet. It’s likely it was lost on takeoff at La Guardia, but if it had been on the runway or airfield, it would likely have been recovered by now. There is a chance it dropped off midflight, perhaps even into the New York Bay, in which case it will probably never be recovered.
A wheely big problem for Air Canada?
Air Canada doesn’t appear to be having much luck with its wheels of late. At the beginning of January, an Air Canada Express Dash 8-300 lost a wheel on takeoff at Montreal, forcing it to head back to the airport.
Bon bah là j’suis actuellement dans un avion qui vient de perdre une roue…
2020 commence plutôt bien 🤔 pic.twitter.com/eZhbOJqIQr
— Tom (@caf_tom) January 3, 2020
And earlier this month, a Boeing 767 operating AC837 had to return to Madrid after a wheel apparently fell into the engine on takeoff. Passengers had to endure a three-hour hold above Spain in order to burn off fuel before eventually landing safely.
While these incidents are unrelated, it’s a spell of bad luck for Air Canada. However, it just goes to show that redundancy pays, as all flights were able to land safely on their remaining wheels.