Video: Miracle as 230 survive without a scratch on jet with no landing gear
All 230 passengers and crew aboard a Boeing 767 escaped unscathed after the aircraft made an emergency landing on its belly at Warsaw airport when a power failure knocked out its landing gear.
The LOT Polish airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey made what experts have described as a textbook crash landing, sliding to a halt on its belly. Once stationary, all four escape chutes deployed and passengers ran for safety as fire crews doused the engines.
"The whole procedure went 100pc according to plan," said Leszek Chorzewski, LOT's spokesman. "Although it looked dramatic, nothing happened to the passengers.
"The risk of a fire starting was low," he added. "There were sparks from the metal scraping the tarmac but that was to be expected.
"No one was injured," he confirmed.
Earlier Captain Tadeusz Wrona, the commander of the aircraft, had informed Warsaw air traffic control that he was unable to lower the undercarriage owing to a power failure.
He was told to circle the airport for 30 minutes and jettison unneeded fuel as emergency services on ground were scrambled and prepared for the landing. The plane landed without its wheels.
Aviation experts were quick to praise Captain Wrona and his crew.
"What he did was exceptional," said one former pilot interviewed for the Polish news channel TVN24.
"He's had around 15,000 flying hours and he, along with his crew, remained calm."
Warsaw airport was due to remain closed until 8 o'clock this morning, with all incoming flights diverted to other airports in Poland.
Bronislaw Komorowski, the Polish president, later said: "There was no failure: the system worked.
"Everything went to plan thanks to skill and co-operation of all involved."
At a press conference, Marcin Pirog, the LOT president, said he had been told there had been no panic on board, and passed on his admiration for the behaviour of the captain and his crew.
"This could have ended very badly so we have to praise the crew."
In preparation for the landing, the airport was closed to all other flights, while nearby streets were cleared. Two military F-16 jets were scrambled to observe its progress.
The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw said that the emergency landing looked incredibly smooth to the untrained eye.
One runway was cleared of all traffic and covered in foam by the fire brigade, and a fleet of ambulances arrived in case disaster struck.
Two Polish air force F16 fighter aircraft also took to the skies to help guide the aircraft. (© Daily Telegraph, London)