(WARSAW, Poland) -- The final moments of Flight 16 from Newark, N.J, to Warsaw, Poland, with 210 passengers and a crew of 11, were alarming. The pilots of the Polish LOT airlines Boeing 767 could not get the landing gear to come down. After circling to dump fuel, they were forced to make an emergency landing, skidding along the runway on the plane’s belly, sparks flying.
Emergency vehicles were standing by, and firefighters quickly hosed down the plane as passengers scrambled to evacuate down the slides. Everyone got out safely. A spokesperson for LOT airlines says it had a support team and psychologists on hand to meet the passengers after they were bused to the terminal.
The airline says pilots noted a failure in the hydraulic system used to lower the gear, and that’s when they called for an emergency landing. BBC reporter Richard W. Gordon, tweeted, “The aircraft’s crew reported an unsafe gear indication at 3,000 feet and attempted to troubleshoot for 80 minutes.”
Fighter jets were sent up to take a look at the jet as it circled over the airport. Those military pilots confirmed the gear was not down.
LOT praised its pilots for carrying out a “perfect emergency landing.”
A passenger waiting at the airport, John Britton, saw the landing and tweeted, “Terrifying, plane on fire at Warsaw airport as I’m about to fly. Crash landing maybe.”
LOT airlines is part of the Star Alliance group, which means it is an international partner for United and Continental flights. Both carriers referred any questions to the Polish airline.
The airline says the passengers on Flight 16 are being released after a medical examination and a brief interview by police.
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