FlySafair 737 loses main landing gear wheel on take-off from Johannesburg 

Bob Adams / Wikimedia Commons

A FlySafair Boeing 737 has sustained damage after a main landing gear wheel detached from the aircraft as it took off from Johannesburg. The aircraft subsequently burned off excess fuel and made an emergency landing back at the airport with no injuries reported to the passengers and crew onboard. 

The aircraft involved in the incident which occurred on April 21, 2024, was one of FlySafair’s 28-strong fleet of Boeing 737-800s registered as ZS-FGE. The aircraft was operating flight FA212 from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) heading to Cape Town International Airport (CPT) when the incident unfolded. 

Thiago B Trevisan / Shutterstock

The aircraft had taken off from runway 21R at Johannesburg Airport when the FlySafair crew was alerted to the separation of one of the aircraft’s main wheels on departure. The aircraft stopped its climb at 22,000ft (6,690m) and leveled off, before descending to 15,000ft (4,560m) and entering a hold to burn off fuel. The aircraft then performed a low approach to runway 21R at Johannesburg approximately 90 minutes after departure, before entering another holding pattern for the crew to run emergency landing checklists.  


The aircraft landed safely back on runway 21R about 40 minutes after the low approach and about two hours and 15 minutes after the original departure.   

Footage from the aftermath of the incident posted on social media shows extensive damage to the left main gear outboard hub with also what appears to be a pool of water beneath the aircraft which could be where the airport fire service attended the scene to cool the main gear brakes after the landing.

According to ch-aviation, the aircraft involved is 16.6 years old having originally flown for GOL Lineas Aereas upon its delivery to the Brazilian carrier in October 2007. FlySafair acquired the aircraft in December 2020 where it is used for flying scheduled low-cost services on behalf of the airline to domestic South African destinations and other cities in neighboring countries.  

South African aviation authorities have confirmed that they will be investigating the incident to discover why the wheel should have separated from the rest of the airframe.  

This incident is almost a carbon copy of another similar incident involving a United Airlines Boeing 777 as it departed from San Francisco International Airport on March 7, 2024. The aircraft, which was operating a scheduled flight to Osaka Kansai International Airport (KIX) when one of the wheels from the left inboard main gear bogey detached and fell to the ground, damaging cars stored in a nearby airport parking area.  

On that occasion, the aircraft diverted to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) where it landed safely a short time later. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating. 

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