A Lufthansa jet, bound for Germany, was forced to dump fuel, circle the area for hours and return to Philadelphia on Sunday after experiencing trouble with its landing gear.
Lufthansa flight 427 had just lifted off from Philadelphia International Airport at 5:45 p.m. when the pilots discovered one of the Airbus A340’s landing gear would not retract, an airline spokesperson tells NBC10.com.
The captain decided to return to Philadelphia rather than carrying on to Frankfurt, its final destination. But, the plane carrying 269 passengers and crew was too heavy to land, so it was forced to circle the area and dump fuel.
The wide-bodied jet spent roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes circling parts of Chester County, Pennsylvania, around 5,000 feet high, officials said.
Chester County emergency dispatchers received numerous calls from concerned residents about the plane.
Ronnie Hunter of Parkesburg saw the plane make a U-turn and head towards Philadelphia. Hunter said she observed the front landing gear looked to be down but the back two weren’t.
Another witness recorded video of the jet releasing the fuel from its wings.
The plane touched back down at Philadelphia International around 9 p.m. without incident, the airline said. The Federal Aviation Administration, Lufthansa and the Philadelphia Fire Department say the flight did not make an emergency landing.
Passengers on board the flight told NBC10 that some people clapped and cheered when the jet touched down.
“I’ll be honest, I started to cry a little because I was really nervous,” said passenger Albert Weiter at baggage claim. “And I was praying.”
The airline put passengers up in hotels for the night while the plane is being repaired. The flight is expected to resume at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.