Investigation following Port Elizabeth flight's close brush with death

OCTOBER 27, 2015

Comair, which operates the British Airways plane that was left stranded on a runway at OR Tambo International Airport following a crash landing on Monday, will be conducting investigations with the aviation authorities to determine the cause of the incident.

"Comair would like to extend an apology to affected passengers for any undue stress and inconvenience. The safety of or passengers and crew is our top priority and Comair and the relevant authorities will be conducting the necessary investigation over the coming days," Comair said in a statement.

It said more information would be released as it became available.

"We can confirm that all passengers and crew safely disembarked with no reported injuries.

"Passengers have been taken to the terminal building where staff are currently on hand assisting them and Comair offered all passengers counselling following the incident."

According to the company, the incident, involving a Boeing 737-400, registration ZS-OAA, happened when the plane experienced a failure with the landing gear shortly after touching down.

"The aircraft was on the runway for a short period performing standard landing procedures when the crew noticed an unusual vibration which was followed shortly by the collapse of the left landing gear.

"ACSA emergency services were dispatched and responded to the scene immediately and assisted passengers and crew to safely disembark," it said.

"After the relevant authorities did their preliminary investigation, Comair received clearance to remove the aircraft and will be delivering all baggage to the passengers."

'We could see sparks'

Speaking to Traveller24, passenger Warren Mann who was on board at the time of the accident, said the pilot made an announcement after the plane had landed, informing passengers that the "left landing gear had broken off".

"This caused the plane to hit the runway at an angle. We could see sparks as the left wing and the engines were scraped across the runway," Mann told Traveller24.

"The wing seemed completely broken off.

"We were met by fire and rescue [officials] who continued to spray the plane and we then disembarked via an emergency staircase," Mann said.

Only a single runway is currently in operation at the airport, leading to delays of 30 minutes.

Airports Company SA spokesperson Colin Naidoo said he was still awaiting full details of the incident.

---additional reporting News24wire

Image: Courtesy of Neal Collins (@nealcol) via Twitter.