On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, an Air Canada plane, coded AC715, bound for Toronto was forced to declare a mid-air emergency after one of its wheels fell off during take-off. The A319 lost one of its six tires while departing just after 2pm from La Guardia Airport landed safely in Toronto at 4pm local time. Fortunately, the 120 passengers and five crew members on board were safe and sound.
AC715 on Runway 23 after successfully landing in Toronto. ©cp24
Airbus A319 normally has two large wheels on each of the two main landing gears, and two smaller wheels under the nose. One of the two wheels on the right-side main landing gear was missing when the plane touched down. From an engineering perspective, the landing gear, wheels and tires are designed to withstand the extra load if another one fails.
The aircraft involved in the incidence, registered as C-GAQL, reportedly made a low-level pass so the control tower could assess the damage prior to landing. Once the damage was known on a superficial scale, passengers and crew were requested to take the crash position (also known as the ‘Brace Position’) as a caution, in case the worst was to happen. The aircraft, however, landed without any issue on runway 23. Emergency crews, which were on standby waiting for the aircraft to land, have investigated the damage, and the aircraft shall be grounded for repairs and further investigation. After landing, the aircraft was towed to the terminal. No data as to whether the missing wheel has been recovered has yet been received.
Post the event, a few passengers even took to social media to praise the pilots and crew for their efforts in successfully landing the aircraft without any casualties.
While incidents such as these are rare, they are not completely unheard of. In January 2020, a passenger took video of sparks flying and then a tire falling off an Air Canada flight during takeoff in Montreal. That plane circled and landed safely back at the same airport. We shall update soon as more details are known. Stay tuned!