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On Feb. 3, a Toronto-bound Air Canada Boeing 767-300 from Madrid landed safely back at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport after declaring an emergency shortly after takeoff.
The problem occurred after one of the plane’s tires ruptured during takeoff and, according to the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA), a piece of the landing gear subsequently broke off and fell into the engine.
Shortly after takeoff, around 3 p.m. local time, Air Canada called air traffic control and requested an emergency landing back at Madrid’s international airport according to Aena S.A., Spain’s state-owned airport authority.
The aircraft was forced to circle Madrid’s airspace for more than two-and-a-half hours in order to lessen its fuel load before the landing and during that time Spanish authorities scrambled an F-18 fighter jet to shadow with flight AC837 in order to inspect the carrier’s damage. The fighter returned to base after taking photos and speaking with the Air Canada pilot.
Benoit Gauthier, a retired Air Canada pilot with 37 years’ experience, told the National Post that the tire rupture and engine problem were most likely connected – the latter issue being the driving factor in returning to the Madrid airport.
“If you’ve lost an engine, you don’t want to cross the Atlantic, you want to land,” he said.
The aircraft burned the necessary fuel in order to touch safely just after 7:10 p.m. local time, with no injuries reported among the 128 passengers and eight crew members on board.
This was the second incident of the day at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport after a drone sighting closed the airport for more than an hour, forcing 26 flights to be diverted away from the airport.