A terrifying moment was captured on tape by a Toronto-area family as a Continental Airlines flight lost one of its right wheels upon landing at Buffalo International Airport.
The dramatic video of Flight 3268 was taken by a passenger and obtained by the Toronto Sun. It shows the plane en route from Newark arriving in Buffalo on Tuesday night.
As first seen on torontosun.com yesterday, the video shows a tire and a piece of the wheel assembly detaching from the landing gear, shortly after touchdown.
The Canadian-made Q400 Bombardier turbo-prop, which has had a recent association with technical glitches, was the aircraft that crashed near Buffalo in February of this year, killing 50 people.
However, investigators in that crash are looking at pilot error as the possible cause.
On Tuesday, the Downsview-made plane with 73 passengers and crew was descending over Buffalo just after 6 p.m. when ashes and debris were seen falling from the wheel as it was lowered, passengers said yesterday.
"I was scared and the other passengers looked worried too," one passenger said. "For a moment I thought the worst in that we may not make it."
The 37-second video shows smoke and small pieces of material being shot out from a wheel assembly before the entire tire flew off, leaving the aircraft with one tire on its right side.
Passengers said they saw flames shooting from the same wheel assembly as the plane took off from New Jersey's Newark airport just after 5 p.m.
"Quite a few passengers saw the flames on takeoff," one passenger said.
The passenger who contacted the Sun, who didn't want to be identified, was returning with his family via Buffalo from a wedding .
Porter Airlines' eight-aircraft fleet is made up entirely of Q400s. In the days after the deadly February crash in Buffalo, Porter CEO Robert Deluce said it wouldn't impact the Toronto island-based carrier's order of 10 more Q400s this year.
In Tuesday's incident, the plane landed safely but had to be towed to the gate.
"This is not a common occurrence," said Philip Reed, a spokesman for Colgan Airlines, which operates the flight for Continental.
"The pilot was taxiing back when he noticed there was a loss of hydraulic pressure."
He said the incident was investigated and the plane was repaired and put back into service.
"The passengers were never in any danger," Reed said. "This sort of thing does happen from time to time."
Bombardier spokesman John Arnone said the tire was recently replaced by the airline.
"I am not aware of this ever happening before," Arnone said yesterday. "This is a very robust and reliable aircraft."
He said his firm began building the Q400s in 2000 and there are more than 200 in service worldwide. The planes have racked up more than a million "incident-free" hours of flight with more than a million takeoff and landings, he said.