Israel's main airport was put on its highest level of alert

Passengers praise plane crew for keeping cool during blown tire scare

Electra Airlines passengers describe clean landing, calm staff, after plane from Cologne makes fraught landing at Ben Gurion Airport

Rescuers reach a damaged Boeing 737 plane on the runway at Ben Gurion Airport shortly after it lands safely, despite a blown tire, on July 1, 2019. (Flash90)
Rescuers reach a damaged Boeing 737 plane on the runway at Ben Gurion Airport shortly after it lands safely, despite a blown tire, on July 1, 2019. (Flash90)

Passengers on a plane that made a successful emergency landing in Israel after blowing a tire on takeoff Monday praised the airliner’s crew for keeping those on board calm, despite fears of a fiery crash landing.

A passenger named Andrew described the takeoff as especially shaky and noisy, and told the Ynet news website that a short while later, the pilot told those aboard that “something had happened to one of the tires.”

According to a statement from Ben-Gurion Airport, a tire burst while the Boeing 737 was taking off from Cologne, Germany, en route to Tel Aviv. The Electra Airlines flight had 152 people on board.

Despite the risk, “people were calm, the captain spoke very calmly and carefully, and everyone felt that it would end well,” Andrew said.

On the ground, some 100 ambulances and emergency crews assembled, as the airport was put on its highest level of alert, in the air. Some passengers said that they had not realized the extent of the issue until the crew told them, just before the plane reached Israel, that they would be making an emergency landing.

Video of the incident posted online showed a flight attendant instructing passengers on how to brace themselves for an emergency landing and chiding one traveler for filming her safety lecture instead of following instructions.

“It was very unsettling, but thankfully we landed safely,” one passenger told Channel 12 news.

Despite the blown tire, the pilot brought the plane down with seemingly no problems, as news broadcasts beamed the images live, with much of the country holding its breath.

“The landing itself was really clean, as if an Israeli Air Force pilot did it. There was applause and singing,” one passenger told Ynet.

“The crew of the plane guided us very well and told us exactly what to do, but it was a bit stressful when they started shouting ‘down, down’ and asked us to put our hands on our heads,” another passenger told Hebrew-language media.

“I fly a lot, and this pilot is incredibly skilled,” he added. “It was a perfectly normal landing, I do not know what he did, but he used all his knowledge and we felt almost nothing.”

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