United Flight Lost Tire

In this image taken from video, a United Airlines Boeing 777 bound for Japan loses a tire as it takes off from San Francisco International Airport on Thursday. The plane made a safe emergency landing in Los Angeles. Cali Planes via AP

SAN FRANCISCO — A United Airlines jetliner bound for Japan made a safe landing in Los Angeles on Thursday after losing a tire while taking off from San Francisco.

Video shows the plane losing one of the six tires on its left-side main landing gear assembly seconds after takeoff. The tire landed in an employee parking lot at San Francisco International Airport, where it smashed into a car and shattered its back window before breaking through a fence and coming to stop in a neighboring lot.

No one was injured, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said in a statement.

Fire engines stood by at Los Angeles International Airport but weren’t needed, as the Boeing 777 made an uneventful landing and stopped about two-thirds of the way down a runway.

Airport spokesman Dae Levine said the plane landed safely. It was then towed away.

The flight carried 235 passengers and a crew of 14, United said. The airline said the plane, built in 2002, was designed to land safely with missing or damaged tires. The passengers were moved to another plane for the rest of the trip, United said.


Boeing 777s have six tires on each of the two main landing gears. Video of Flight 35 departing shows the plane losing one of the six tires on its left-side main landing gear assembly seconds after takeoff.

Aviation experts said planes losing tires is a rare occurrence and not indicative of a larger safety issue.

“In aviation, we never want to have single points of failure if they can be avoided, and this is a case in point,” said Alan Price, a former chief pilot for Delta Air Lines.

“The remaining tires are fully capable of handling the load,” he added.

Price said a loose tire is normally a maintenance issue, not a problem created by the manufacturer.

John Cox, a retired pilot and professor of aviation safety at the University of Southern California, agreed.


“I don’t see any impact for Boeing, as it was a United maintenance team that changed the tire,” he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate, spokesman Tony Molinaro said.


Associated Press writer David Koenig contributed to this report.

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