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Photographs capture United 747-400 tyre failure

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 22, 2013

A United 747-400 departing Sydney on October 20 suffered tyre failure on takeoff, remarkably captured here by Australian Aviation reader Quoc Mach Nguyen.

The aircraft, operating UA840 with 227 passengers and 14 crew aboard, returned to Sydney one and a half hours later after dumping fuel. The emergency landing and closure of the runway as the aircraft was recovered and the runway cleaned and inspected caused widespread delays. The United flight was subsequently cancelled.

photo - Quoc Mach Nguyen
photo – Quoc Mach Nguyen

 

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Quoc Mach Nguyen

photo – Quoc Mach Nguyen

 

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15 Comments

  • Julian French

    says:

    Amazing shots Quoc!!

  • Ashley Wincer

    says:

    Great photo.. Thanks for posting it online..

  • Tim

    says:

    Great shots.

    Could someone explain why the flight had to be cancelled? What is the difference between landing in Syd vs LA? Or could they not retract the landing gear?

  • Rumsey

    says:

    plane was going to Melbourne not LAX. Aircraft needs to be inspected for damage ASAP. Remember what burst tyres did to Concorde.

  • Nicholas Fone

    says:

    Fantastic pic, Quoc. Sharing this link with the pilots in my family 🙂

  • Nicholas Fone

    says:

    Rumsey, UA 840 is SYD to LAX.

  • Nicholas Fone

    says:

    Tim, I asked my old man about this as I was wondering the same thing. SOP would be to leave the landing gear down, due to potential damage from tyre debris. If they retracted it, then it might not have been possible to get it down again, which would have likely presented a far more difficult situation on landing.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing about the actual cause of the blown tyres!

  • Tim

    says:

    Thanks for the replies guys

  • Ben

    says:

    Good thing they left it down too, I’ve seen pictures of the gear area and it’s not pretty. At best they’d have had an unknown drag penalty, which on a 14hr trans-Pacific isn’t something you’d want.

  • Philip Argy

    says:

    Doesn’t a tyre failure slow early in the takeoff roll suggest that it ran over debris on the runway? From the picture it seems to be taking off on 34L and is barely 30% into its takeoff run.

  • aviatorman

    says:

    Re Ben. . ‘good thing they left it down’… it may not have retracted if they wanted it to. But very prudent anyway without knowing the extent of damage. Maybe the tyre was worn beyond limits… (cost cutting.?)

  • Maurice Dee

    says:

    It is most unprofessional to jump to conclusions before all the evidence is presented. We will just have to be patient and await the details found during the investigation as to why the tyres failed and what damage resulted.

  • John Brennan

    says:

    Are United heading or chapter 11 again ?

  • Alex

    says:

    I was on that flight. The captain told us they could not get the gear to go up, which leads me to believe that they tried. I was in business first, second floor, first row behind the cockpit and the blowout occurred just before the nose lifted off. Somewhat scary, but the flight crew and captain and first officer did a great job of keeping everyone calm and of course landing the plane safely.

  • Greg Nelson

    says:

    I was also on this flight (business class main cabin). As an earlier poster highlighted, it felt like the plane ran over something shortly before the nose lifted for takeoff. We didnt really know what happened until the plane hit 10,000 feet and the captain informed us that he couldn’t get the landing gear to retract. He then indicated we would be dumping fuel and returning to Sydney. Keep in mind, this is a double decker 747 with full tanks heading to LA so it took over an hour to release the fuel. We did a fly by so that the tower could get a visual on the landing gear and there was extensive damage to the hydraulics (not just the tires). The fight crew and the pilots were amazing and they kept everyone calm in what could have been a major incident. I was flying with my wife who is a 30+ year flight attendant and she was nervous because she had never seen a full emergency “prep” in all of her years of flying…where the flight attendants have their manuals out and are preparing for an emergency landing. We assumed crash positions and pilot landed the plane on one wheel like a butterfly with sore knees. Emergency vehicles lined the runway and TV crews met us after we exited the plane. What a superb job the pilots and flight crew did!

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