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‘Calm’ pilot’s ’textbook’ belly landing

Written by on May 13, 2024

A plane with malfunctioning landing gear has landed safely after circling a regional airport for nearly four hours.

In cloudy and drizzly conditions, the plane made a hard landing at Newcastle Airport in the NSW Hunter Region about 12.20pm on Monday.

Footage of the landing showed the plane skidding on the underside of the fuselage, as fire trucks rushed to the plane once it came to rest.

Speaking a little more than an hour after touchdown, NSW Police Superintendent Wayne Humphrey said the 53-year-old Queensland man at the controls was cool, calm and handled the situation perfectly.

“He made a textbook wheels-up landing which I was very happy to see … It was a great result. Really well done by the pilot,” Superintendent Humphrey said, adding the pilot sounded calm on the radio.

Neither the pilot or the 60-year-old male and 65-year-old female passengers were injured.

The couple jumped out of the plane and drove home after being checked by emergency services, Superintendent Humphrey said.

Having taken off from the airport about 8.30am, the pilot realised there was a fault with the landing gear and stayed flying around the area hoping the issue would resolve, Superintendent Humphrey said.

When the gear would not co-operate, the pilot flew around to burn fuel and landed the plane on its belly.

“It’s a mechanical failure. Nothing untoward,” Superintendent Humphrey said.

The runway would be closed for 24 hours, or until the plane was removed, he said.

Initial indications were there was only superficial damage to the runway, but the air force would check further.

The commercial airport shares the land with RAAF Base Williamtown. The RAAF control the land.

Eastern Air Services registered flight XDV had been scheduled to make a 26-minute flight from Newcastle to Port Macquarie.

But the plane circled for nearly four hours.

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said multiple crews had been sent to the airport.

A defence spokesman said the civilian King Air aircraft reported in-flight technical issues about 10.40am.

“The aircraft is currently expending fuel and will attempt a wheels up landing shortly,” the spokesman said.

FlightRadar24 lists the plane in question as a Beechcraft B200 Super King Air plane, which can carry 13 passengers, plus the pilot and an additional passenger in the cockpit.

Eastern Air Services is a charter company based at Port Macquarie that flies to Lord Howe Island and offers scenic and charter flights.

Dozens of onlookers had gathered at the airport and cheered, the Daily Mail reports, as the plane made a successful “wheels-up landing” at 12.19pm.