Plane loses wheel during take-off at OR Tambo


A FlySafair plane had to turn around on Sunday shortly after it left OR Tambo Airport for Cape Town due to damage to one of the wheels used for take-off and landings. The plane apparently lost its wheel during takeoff.

No one was injured during the incident and flight FA212 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was finally able to land safely after about two and a half hours.

Kirby Gordon, head of marketing for FlySafair, says everything went normally when the plane took off at OR Tambo Airport in Kempton Park at 11:32 on Sunday.

However, shortly afterwards crew members noticed damage to one of the plane’s rear wheels and it was decided to return to Johannesburg instead.

The Boeing 737 changed course and the crew diverted for a while to Paris in the Free State to burn fuel and lighten the plane for landing.

“This is standard procedure when there is no urgency to land, as it is safer to land with a lighter fuel load, and modern Boeing 737 aircraft do not have the facility to dump fuel,” explains Gordon.

On its return to OR Tambo, the plane flew low over the airport so that safety and technical teams could take a closer look at the damage before the final landing. It was then confirmed that one of the four rear wheels had lost its weight during takeoff.

The wheel was one of two attached to the left rear landing gear.

From there the aircraft diverted to Centurion to burn the remaining fuel before the aircraft finally landed at OR Tambo at 14:06.

Gordon says that modern airplanes are equipped to some extent to be able to land despite a missing wheel.

However, response vehicles waited for the plane as a precaution and the plane was inspected after landing by safety and engineering teams on the runway before the plane was brought back to the terminal.

Passengers were transferred from there to another plane which later departed for Cape Town.

Gordon says the extent and cause of the damage to the plane will be investigated.

“We thank our customers for their patience and understanding during the flight, as well as our teams on the ground as well as in the air for handling this issue with the utmost control and care.”