National/World

Warsaw airport back to work after plane emergency

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Warsaw's international airport was operating again Thursday after being shut down for about 30 hours due to an emergency landing of a plane whose landing gear failed to deploy.

The airport's two runways were again in use and there was no damage to the surface from the emergency landing Tuesday of the Boeing 767 from Newark, New Jersey, with 231 people on board, said Przemyslaw Przybylski, a spokesman for Warsaw's Frederic Chopin International Airport.

The plane, operated by Polish national airline LOT, had ended up close to the intersection of the two runways, rendering both unusable.

Przybylski said dozens of flights have gone through the airport since it reopened late Wednesday after the plane was moved to a hangar. There was heavy fog in Warsaw, a frequent occurrence in Poland at this time of the year, but flights were operating thanks to specialized equipment.

The Boeing safely touched down on its belly Tuesday after its undercarriage failed to open. None of the 231 people on board was injured, and the pilot has been hailed as a hero in Poland.

The State Commission on Aircraft Accident Investigation said it was looking into the cause of the plane's malfunctioning.

A team of Boeing experts also arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday to assist LOT with the technical examination of the plane. However, the U.S. aircraft maker did not want to go into detail about its involvement.

"Boeing is committed to the safety of our airplanes and the people who fly on them. We are working closely with our customer and are on site providing technical assistance," Boeing Co. said in an e-mailed statement. "We stand ready to assist in an investigation if invited by the authorities."

LOT airlines president Marcin Pirog said it would take several weeks of technical tests on the aircraft before the airline knows whether it can be put back into service. Meanwhile, LOT was seeking to lease a plane to replace the grounded aircraft.

LOT officials said that the plane, a 767-300ER model, was 14-years-old and among the youngest in the airline's fleet. It underwent full maintenance in March.

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