This morning (31 August), the single runway (*) at London Gatwick was closed between 06:30 and 07:00 (UTC +1) after a precautionary landing of a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A332 (G-VWND) and after another pilot reported debris on the runway. According to a Virgin Atlantic spokesman, the aircraft was coming in from Antigua as VS34 and had a technical issue (**) but landed safely at Gatwick. Aviation24.be has learned that the aircraft had a steering problem.
According to flightradar24-data the aircraft first approached runway 08R around 05:50 but went into a holding pattern for twenty minutes before safely landing at 06:28.
A runway inspection was required after the landing of the A330 and the runway reopened around 07:00 (all times UTC +1) with the departure of TUI flight BY4524. Some aircraft were forced to divert to London Heathrow.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and after landing safely the aircraft was taken to the gate as normal. The runway was inspected after landing and has now reopened,” a spokesman said.
The precautionary landing had a snowball effect for flights departing at the airport, some passengers started ranting on social media as their flight got delayed. Delays are expected until the early afternoon.
How long is this delay expected to be? We were meant to take off at 7am and our pilot said we were 30 in the queue??!
— daisy mcandrew (@daisymcandrew) August 31, 2018
Early but not very bright or efficient !! Waiting on a T Cook, supposed to take off at 0645, have been told there are 30 aircrafts waiting to takeoff. Get a grip please 🤯
— A Ahmad (@Aaa911P) August 31, 2018
Any idea when the back log of grounded planes will be cleared? Another day of chaos at Gatwick I see !
— Andy Thomas (@andy_thomas89) August 31, 2018
Sitting on an easyJet flight to Barcelona due to fly out at 7.25. Still grounded. Any clue
— Finbar Prunty (@finbar_prunty) August 31, 2018
Open the fucking runway so people can fly then! Been sat on this plane over an hour
— Sav (@chrissavjackson) August 31, 2018
They are clearing the runway as Virgin plane called a Mayday with no nose gear, apparently is currently dumping fuel before attempting an emergency landing, maybe think about all the people whose lives are currently at risk up there, rather than your slightly delayed flight!
— Mums Travel Blog (@terrisussex) August 31, 2018
(*) Gatwick operates as a single-runway airport although it has two runways; the northern runway (08L/26R) can only be used when the main runway (08R/26L) is out of use for any reason. (source wikipedia)
(**) Aviation24.be has learned that the aircraft had a steering problem.