A Virgin Atlantic flight with 253 persons on board landed safely at Saint Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) Sunday afternoon, after a report that the aircraft had experienced a tyre pressure problem.
Emergency officials told St Lucia Times that the Saint Lucia Fire Service was alerted and was on standby.
Police also diverted road traffic heading to the airport, resulting in a backup of cars and other vehicles.
The Virgin Atlantic flight, originally scheduled to land in Saint Lucia about 1:30 pm, eventually touched down about 2.00 pm much to the relief of passengers who burst into applause, persons on board told St Lucia Times.
“The flight was good – except for the landing,” passenger Michael Speakman told St Lucia Times.
“It was very windy and they had to go around again. Then there was something wrong with the tyres which happened both in Saint Lucia and at Gatwick; but everything else was good,” Speakman said.
He disclosed that the passengers on board were a bit anxious.
“The Captain came on and said there was a lot of wind and he had to go around,” Speakman explained.
He stated that the captain spoke about the tyre pressure problem only after the aircraft landed on its second attempt, the first having been aborted apparently as a result of strong cross-winds.
Speakman was of the opinion that had the captain announced the problem before, it would have ‘freaked people out.’
Another passenger, Darby Etienne, said that the flight was ‘great’ until the Virgin Atlantic aircraft reached Saint Lucia air space.
“The landing had to be aborted because of the strong Eastern winds,” Etienne told St Lucia Times.
“The captain was quite funny – he told us he was taking us on a roller coaster,” he recalled.
Etienne said that passengers were happy to have concluded their journey to Saint Lucia safely.
“There was a great round of applause when he finally landed,” he recalled.
According to Etienne, engineers had to check the plane’s tyre pressure after it landed.
“It was not towed in because the engineer verified that it was good enough for the aircraft to be driven to its final landing spot.”