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Pilot in Gatwick plane drama: 'I was just doing my job'

The pilot who dramatically landed a Virgin Atlantic jet at Gatwick Airport, after a landing-gear failure forced it to turn back, has said he was just doing his job.

In a statement issued as passengers from the flight finally landed safely in Las Vegas, David Williams said any of the airline's pilots would have done the same, and that he was proud of his colleagues.

Mr Williams said: "Clearly this was an out of the ordinary landing, but I was just doing my job and any one of our pilots would have taken the same actions.

"I'm really proud of my colleagues on the ground and in the air and the support they gave me during this event - everyone worked really hard in a difficult situation and we are delighted that our customers were able to travel to Las Vegas the next day for their New Year's Eve celebrations."

Eyewitnesses reported that the jet was flying at a relatively low altitude and that the pilot appeared to be trying to shake the landing gear down Credit: @atcfrase/PA

Virgin Atlantic said Mr Williams had been trying to stay out of the media spotlight over the last 24 hours, and the pilot added he was "keen to spend some private time with my family over the new year".

A specially scheduled flight meant intrepid passengers took to the skies again after Monday's flight suffered a major landing-gear fault which forced it to return to Gatwick.

Virgin Atlantic confirmed the flight took off at 11:15am on Tuesday, and landed safely at McCarran International Airport Las Vegas at 20:59. A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: "The majority of people did choose to fly - about 95% did.

"Some didn't for various reasons, but I think the majority did choose to fly. About 13 of the passengers went on holiday as crew companions and obviously that original crew weren't travelling any more."

The spokeswoman said it was standard procedure for a new crew to operate a flight if there is an incident or delay on board.

She added: "We'd like to thanks our customers for their support as we understand that this will have been a very upsetting situation for them. We're delighted that they have landed in Las Vegas in time for New Year's Eve."

Passengers applauded with relief after their stricken Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet landed safely at the West Sussex airport on Monday, and praised the aircraft's pilot.

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Virgin boss thanks staff for 'fantastic response'

The Chief Executive of Virgin has paid tribute to the staff who handled the plane's issues this afternoon and reassures passengers they will be heading to LAs Vegas on a specially scheduled flight tomorrow.

I am very pleased to confirm that all customers and crew have now disembarked the VS43 flight to Las Vegas, which returned to Gatwick airport this afternoon following a problem with one of the landing gear.

I understand that this will have been a very upsetting situation for the customers involved, and for their friends and family, and will have significantly disrupted people’s holiday plans. We will make sure they are well looked after this evening, and will be operating a special flight tomorrow for everyone who would like to continue their journey.

I’m here at Gatwick to meet our customers and crew, and to thank them all for their fantastic response. I understand that people have already been phoning our contact centre – from the plane – to make sure that they are booked on tomorrow’s special flight to Las Vegas. I want to reassure them that we’ll make sure there’s a seat for everyone and we really look forward to making sure they’re in Vegas for an amazing New Year’s Eve.

I would like to thank all of the Virgin Atlantic crew and colleagues, who responded with the absolute professionalism and care for our customers that we would expect.

– Craig Kreeger, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic

This footage captured the moment the VS43 plane landed safely at Gatwick this afternoon.

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No flights in or out of Gatwick until 6pm

No flights will be going in or out of Gatwick Airport until at least 6pm after the emergency landing of a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet.

Virgin Atlantic flight VS043 has landed safely after returning to Gatwick due to a technical fault. Following the emergency landing, passengers have disembarked the aircraft via stairs. At this time, only minor injuries have been reported.

The runway has been closed until the aircraft can be removed from the runway and, based on current predictions, it is not expected to reopen until at least 6pm.

Currently no flights are departing Gatwick and inbound flights are being diverted to other airports. We advise passengers to check with their airlines on the status of their flight. Updates will also be posted on the Gatwick website and on Twitter.

– Gatwick spokeman
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'Hero' pilot hailed over Gatwick emergency landing

A passenger on board Virgin Atlantic flight VS43 has praised the pilot and crew for bringing the plane down at Gatwick safely despite a faulty landing gear.

Speaking on Sky News, Mike Kaufman said: "This was one of the greatest emergency landings in history. It was very smooth."

He praised the pilots and the cabin crew, saying the landing had been "textbook".

The fact everything went so well shows just how professional the flight crew were. The crew were calm.

We had a safety briefing two hours before we landed and when we were told we would have to go into the brace position for landings a sigh went around the plane.

– Mike Kaufman, passenger

Video shows plane circling above East Sussex homes

Video footage has captured the worrying moments before the Virgin Atlantic flight VS43 landed at Gatwick Airport after suffering landing gear issues.

The plane was circling homes in Sussex as it flew low to the ground- this video was taken from a garden in Rottingdean in East Sussex.

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Flight VS43 lands safely at Gatwick after landing gear drama

After more than an hour of circling overhead Gatwick airport, the VS43 has safely landed on the runway.

The 400 onboard was safely on British ground again after the dramatic few hours with the landing gear failing to work.

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Photo shows 'faulty landing gear' on Virgin plane

A picture posted on Twitter appears to show the underside of the Virgin Atlantic flight currently due to land at Gatwick Airport due to landing gear problems.

A picture posted on Twitter showing the underside of the Virgin Atlantic flight. Credit: @atcfrase/PA

Twitter user Fraser Hay, who captured the image, commented that the plane hjas a bisible issue with its right main gear.

A close-up appears to show an issue with the right gear. Credit: @atcfrase/PA

Eyewitnesses reported that the jet was flying at a relatively low altitude and that the pilot appeared to be trying to shake the landing gear down.

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