United Airlines Plane Loses Tire, Damages Cars In Nearby Parking Lot (Video)

A tire fell off a United Airlines plane taking off from San Francisco International Airport Thursday morning and landed in a nearby parking lot, damaging several vehicles, officials said.

The tire from Japan-bound United Flight 35, which was diverted to Los Angeles, ended up landing in an airport employee parking lot, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said. No injuries were reported.

Video footage captured the moment when the tire from the Boeing 777-200 came off the rear landing gear seconds after the plane took off.

The runway was briefly closed to allow crews to clear debris, Yakel said. There was no further impact to airport operations.

Flight 35 was headed for Osaka, Japan, before being diverted to Los Angeles International Airport, where it landed safely.

A Boeing 777 has six tires on each of its two main landing gear struts, according to the airline. It is designed to land with missing or damaged tires.

Two aviation experts with decades of experience as airline pilots could not stress enough just how rare a tire coming off a plane is.

“It’s remarkable that this happened at all,” aviation expert Mike McCarron said. “Fortunately no one was injured.”

When asked if he thinks it was a Boeing issue or a United issue, McCarron said, “It’s like you bought a Chevy two, three years ago and the wheel came off. Well, who’s maintaining your car for you at that time? This is where I really think they’ll be focusing on United’s maintenance procedures and look at their paperwork and see where things happened. Now, if they point to a structural problem, then you’re going to get Boeing involved as far as the build of the aircraft.”

Doug Rice, who flew for commercial airlines for 42 years, said while the plane has six tires on each side and is capable of landing without one of those wheels, there are still concerns that something else could be damaged until the plane lands safely.

“Which is also why they didn’t move the airplane off the runway,” he said. “They put it to a stop. They left the airplane there. The fire department came out, airport operations came out. That’s also why they towed the airplane to the gate because they didn’t want to risk any problems with the aircraft.”

The plane was carrying a total of 249 people – 235 customers, 10 flight attendants and 4 pilots, according to the airline.

Records show the plane was delivered from Boeing to United 22 years ago.

Investigators from the FAA and NTSB will be inspecting the plane and the wheel itself to try to find out how it fell off.

United said customers boarded a new plane at LAX to continue their journey to Osaka.

“We’re grateful to our pilots and flight attendants for their professionalism in managing this situation. We’re also grateful to our teams on the ground who were waiting with a tug to move the aircraft soon after it landed and to our teams in the airport who assisted customers upon their arrival,” United said in a statement. “We will work with customers as well as with the owners of the damaged vehicles in SFO to ensure their needs are addressed.”

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