The national carrier Maldivian airline has apologised for a “technical problem” that caused an Addu City-bound flight’s landing gear to malfunction on Tuesday.
The stuck landing gear forced the 50-seat Dash 8 plane to fly in a holding pattern over the Gan international airport for more than an hour. The flight landed safely around 1:35pm after manually lowering the landing gear.
The plane made two low passes over the runway until air traffic control visually confirmed the landing gear was down.
“The company is doing everything necessary to find out and solve the problem the plane faced,” the state-owned Island Aviation Services that operates the airline said in a statement Wednesday, apologising for the difficulties and distress experienced by the passengers.
Maldivian operates in line with rules and standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, it added, noting that the airline is regularly audited.
It was the first such incident of a landing gear malfunction in local aviation history. An emergency was declared at the airport in the southernmost atoll.
The flight took off from the Velana International Airport near the capital Malé on Tuesday morning with several locals and tourists. Island Aviation Services officials previously told the media that an investigation was underway.
The Maldivian pilot and crew have been widely praised for the safe landing.
Maldivian congratulated and thanked Captain Abdul Baasith Ibrahim, First Officer Rimah Rushdee and Flight Supervisor Hasna Mohamed for their handling of the emergency as social media users applauded the pilots and crew.
A passenger told Mihaaru that after the third failed attempt to land the flight supervisor told everyone on board to wear lifejackets and be ready to jump when the emergency doors were opened.
There were several women and children on the flight, including a one-year-old boy. Almost everyone started crying when it became clear that the plane was unable to land, the passenger told the local daily.
Passengers were told that the pilot would attempt a crash landing if the fifth and final attempt had proved unsuccessful.
Hats off to the brave pilot who managed to pull it off. The flight DQA118 was having difficulty landing for a good amount of time. Families were scared for their loved ones in the plane. Alhamdulillaah, all went fine. pic.twitter.com/QiDDTaF3fo
— Zafu (@Zafuu8) March 12, 2019
Shout out to our crew, Captain Abdul Baasith Ibrahim, First officer Rimah Rushdhi and In Flight Supervisor Hasna Mohamed for the smooth landing at Gan international Airport. Alhamdulillah. pic.twitter.com/HH3qS9wFwB
— Maldivian (@MaldivianAero) March 12, 2019
Hats off to our former Student, Captain Basith and his Crew for the safe landing at Gan International Airport after…
— MV+ (@mvplusnews) March 12, 2019