Boeing cargo plane lands in Istanbul without front landing gear, no casualties

A FedEx Airlines Boeing 767 cargo plane landed at Istanbul Airport on Wednesday without its front landing gear, a Turkish Transport Ministry official said, adding there were no casualties and authorities had launched an investigation.

The aircraft, flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, informed the control tower in Istanbul that its landing gear had failed to open and touched down with guidance from the tower, managing to remain on the runway, a ministry statement said.

Airport rescue and fire fighting teams were scrambled before landing, but no one was injured. The ministry gave no reason for the failure.

The aircraft involved is a nearly 10-year-old Boeing 767 freighter, one of the most common cargo planes and based on the 767 passenger model dating back to the 1980s.

An official from Turkey’s transport ministry said its teams were conducting examinations at the scene as part of the ongoing investigation, but did not provide further details.

Boeing referred queries to FedEX, which said in a statement it was coordinating with investigation authorities and would “provide additional information as it is available”.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed sparks flying and some smoke as the front of the plane scraped along the runway before coming to a halt and being doused with firefighting foam. No fire appeared to have broken out.

The video showed the pilots holding the plane’s nose above the runway for several seconds after the main wheels had touched the ground, apparently executing the emergency drill for landing with a retracted nose gear that pilots train for, according to the SKYbrary aviation database.

In June last year, a small 22-year-old Boeing 717 flown by Delta Airlines made a similar smooth landing without a nose gear in Charlotte, North Carolina, in an incident later blamed on a fractured component.

The runway was temporarily closed to air traffic, but other runways at Istanbul airport were still operating normally, the airport operator IGA said.

Manufacturers are not typically involved in the operation or maintenance of jets once they enter service, but Boeing has been under intense media and regulatory scrutiny following a series of incidents on its smaller 737.

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