Flybe plane makes emergency landing in Belfast after nose gear fails

A Flybe plane is pictured after an emergency landing at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland, Britain, November 10, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Geoff Coyles via REUTERS

BELFAST (Reuters) - A Flybe aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Northern Ireland on Friday after its nose gear failed.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop plane with 52 passengers and four crew on board was on route from Belfast City Airport to Inverness when an emergency was declared.

The aircraft circled over the Irish Sea before making the emergency landing and coming to rest with its nose cone on the tarmac at Belfast International Airport. One person was slightly injured.

"Flybe can confirm that one passenger was taken to hospital with a minor hand injury following an incident involving one of our aircraft this afternoon which landed with its nose gear raised at Belfast International Airport," a spokesman for the airline said.

The airline said it was sending a specialist team to Belfast to "do all we can to understand the cause of this incident".

Last month, Flybe issued a profit warning, citing higher than expected aircraft maintenance costs, and said it aimed to improved the reliability of the Bombardier Q400 in particular.

The airline is handing back six Q400 jets this year, part of a strategy to shrink its fleet. By next March, it will be operating 54 Q400s, over two-thirds of its fleet total.

Bombardier were not immediately available for comment.

Fire crews were on stand by at the airport for the landing but the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said the aircraft had landed safely and they were not needed."

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union BALPA, said the landing was a difficult manoeuvre.

"The pilots in this case appear to have done a sterling job of bringing the aircraft back under those circumstances," he said in a statement.


(Reporting by Ian Graham in Belfast and Alistair Smout in London; editing by Stephen Addison)

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