Virgin Atlantic flight VS43 lands safely in 'non-standard' landing at Gatwick after faulty undercarriage discovered

Boeing 747 was due to travel from Gatwick to Las Vegas

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The Independent Online

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 has landed safely after being forced to make a “non-standard landing procedure” at Gatwick because of a landing gear problem.

The Jumbo jet, flight number VS43, took off at 11.44am for the 5,200-mile flight to Las Vegas. It is believed that the flight crew became aware of a problem with the landing gear soon after take-off.

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The aircraft had been flying circuits over Sussex while dumping fuel to reduce its weight. The drama has caused chaos at the Sussex airport where dozens of flights have been, or will be, delayed or diverted affecting thousands of passengers.

Soon after 3pm the aircraft descended to 2,000ft to fly over Southampton airport so that air-traffic controllers could look at the undercarriage and report its condition to the pilots.

Virgin said: "Virgin Atlantic can confirm that flight VS43 on December 29, travelling to McCarran International Airport Las Vegas, returned to Gatwick due to a technical issue with one of the landing gears.

"The aircraft is preparing to implement a non-standard landing procedure at Gatwick airport. A further update will be issued as soon as possible

A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: "We can confirm that Virgin Atlantic flight VS043 which departed Gatwick Airport at around 11.45am is returning to Gatwick after the aircraft developed a technical fault.

"In line with standard procedure, emergency services are on standby at the airport purely as a precaution."

In November 1997, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 made an emergency landing at Heathrow after a flight from Los Angeles when part of the undercarriage failed to deploy. Of the 114 passengers and crew on board, nine needed treatment for minor injuries sustained in the evacuation.

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