Plane makes emergency landing without landing gear in Newcastle airport drama

Plane makes emergency landing without landing gear in Newcastle airport drama

A light plane has been forced to make a wheels-up emergency landing at Newcastle Airport in New South Wales after its landing gear failed.

The twin-turboprop aircraft circled the airport dumping fuel for almost four hours before it made the dramatic landing on Monday afternoon with three people on board.

Emergency crews who were on standby for the landing broke applause after the plane touched down safely on its belly.

The Beechcraft Super King Air, operated by Eastern Air Services, had taken off at 8.30am from Newcastle Airport, north of Sydney, bound for a 112-mile flight north to Port Macquarie. However, just 10 minutes into the flight, the pilot raised an SOS alarm.

As the plane circled in preparation to return to the runway, an operations room was set up at the adjoining defence base at Williamtown and a dozen crews including firefighters, police, the State Emergency Service and ambulances arrived at Newcastle Airport.

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed that the plane landed on the tarmac without incident, praising the pilot for executing a “textbook” wheels-up landing.

Footage of the landing showed the plane touching down and slowing to a stop without suffering any significant damage. Onlookers gathered at the airport cheered and applauded as the pilot and two passengers emerged safely.

Superintendent Wayne Humphrey of NSW Police said the 53-year-old pilot from Queensland realised there was a mechanical issue with the plane shortly after taking off and he later found that the “landing gear would not come back down”.

“He stayed here and burned off fuel,” Supt Humphrey said of the plane’s time in the air above Newcastle, which was captured by air traffic monitoring website. “I could hear him on the air. He sounded very calm to me.”

“After some hours in the air burning off some fuel, he [the pilot] made a textbook wheels-up landing, which I was very happy to see … It ended really well, thank goodness,” he said.

He said the passengers were a couple in their sixties, who got out of the plane themselves, adding: “It was great work by the pilot, to be honest.”

Newcastle Airport said in a statement posted on social media: “We’re incredibly relieved the aircraft landed safely this afternoon.

“We’re investigating options to recover the aircraft and re-open the airfield as soon as possible.”

Newcastle Airport was expected to remain shut for about 24 hours as recovery operations were conducted.